'Voice of the Boro' Alastair Brownlee dies aged 56
Published 15/02/2016 | 15:46
Tributes have been paid to a popular football commentator known as the Voice of the Boro who has died aged 56.
BBC Tees stalwart Alastair Brownlee briefly changed his name to Up the Boro for charity and covered 1,500 Middlesbrough FC matches for radio.
When he was diagnosed with bowel cancer earlier this season, Middlesbrough fans used the lights on their mobile phones to show their support for him and sang in his honour. The gesture moved him to tears.
Mr Brownlee, born in Middlesbrough close to the club's former Ayresome Park home, covered their games for 33 years.
Two years ago he changed his name via deed poll in aid of Sport Relief to Up the Boro Brownlee, before changing it back again.
His family issued a statement, saying: "Alastair's family would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support at this very sad time.
"Throughout his illness he maintained his positivity and hope of cheering on his beloved Boro back into the Premier League.
"He was Middlesbrough born and bred and loved his town and the people in it. He will be sadly missed by everyone."
TV comedian Bob Mortimer, who knew him from childhood, said on Twitter: "RIP Ali Brownlee.
"I was at school with Ali and he was as lovely a lad then as he is now. Sad day."
The BBC said in a statement: "BBC Tees presenter Ali Brownlee has died last night after a short illness.
"Ali had announced in November 2015 that he had been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
"Ali was the Voice of the Boro for 33 years, commentating on more than 1,500 Middlesbrough matches.
"He also presented the Breakfast show."
Dan Thorpe, managing editor of BBC Tees, said: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with Ali's wife and family.
"Ali has been an integral part of the BBC Tees family for many years and was hugely popular with our listeners.
"He was a Middlesbrough legend and a lovely man.
"He will be very sorely missed by all his friends and colleagues at BBC Tees, as well as of course by our audience who loved him so much.
"Ali's family ask you to respect their privacy at this difficult time."
The football club he loved said: "Middlesbrough Football Club are deeply saddened to announce the death of a broadcasting legend.
"Alastair Brownlee, BBC Tees commentator and broadcaster, passed away last night aged 56 following a battle with cancer.
"The thoughts of everyone at the club are with his family today.
"Please respect their privacy at this difficult time."