A teacher and Ipswich Town commentator who touched so many lives – tributes pour in for ‘Knightsy’

Bryan Knights with Paul Mariner

Bryan Knights with Paul Mariner

Former BBC Radio Suffolk commentator and Murrayfield Primary School head teacher, Bryan Knights, died yesterday at the age of 72.

Ipswich Town striker Shefki Kuqi (left) with Radio Suffolk's Bryan Knights at the Stoke by Nayland P

Ipswich Town striker Shefki Kuqi (left) with Radio Suffolk's Bryan Knights at the Stoke by Nayland Pro-am Golf Day in 2004

He has been described as a legend of a broadcaster, a remarkable man and a well respected headmaster.

These are just some of the tributes to the “indestructible” Bryan Knights, the former radio commentator who covered hundreds of Ipswich Town matches, and died yesterday aged 72.

A pupil at Northgate School and later headmaster of Murrayfield Primary School in Ipswich, Mr Knights was known to many people across the town – and throughout Suffolk – thanks to his connections in a variety of sports.

A generation of Town fans have grown up listening to him on Saturday afternoons on SGR FM and later BBC Radio Suffolk, while many people came across the keen sportsman through local golf, cricket, darts and the Ipswich Witches speedway team.

James Scowcroft being interviewed by Bryan Knights

James Scowcroft being interviewed by Bryan Knights

Friends and former colleagues led the way in paying tribute to Mr Knights yesterday after his death in Ipswich Hospital.

Stan Singleton, a close friend since his school days with Mr Knights, said they first met when collecting autographs at ITFC matches.

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“Because of that tenuous connection early on we became very good friends throughout our Northgate years,” he said.

“We found we had an awful lot in common. We had a love of music and sport.”

Mr Singleton also said Mr Knights’ favourite regime at Portman Road had been that of John Duncan, while as a headteacher “he touched so many lives”.

“He certainly wanted to be at the forefront of things,” he added. “He was no shrinking violet and he lived life to the full when he could.”

Dave Allard, former Ipswich Town reporter for the Ipswich Star, travelled with Mr Knights to away games when they both covered the club’s fortunes.

“He was the most remarkable man I ever met,” Mr Allard said. “He did so many things in his life; he was a football reporter, a brilliant headmaster, a cricket umpire.

“We were staying at a hotel one night before a game, maybe against Manchester United, and the Olympics had just started.

“We were sitting in a room and it was about midnight. I said I was going to go to sleep but such was his love of sport when I woke up he was still up.

“He watched the lot. We went down for breakfast and I said, “You’ll never be able to cover this match,” and he said, “I can,” and he did.

“That just about sums Knightsy up.”

Eric Johnstone, who first met Mr Knights in 1969, described his friend as: “A man of opinion, vastly interested in most sports and I believe a very well respected headmaster.”

He added Mr Knights, who at one time was the PA announcer at Portman Road, was also a “great prankster”.

“With the Ipswich Greyhounds Cricket Regiment, they went on tour to south east England as they did every year,” he explained.

“They were staying in a hotel and Bryan discovered a goat in the garden and brought it in to the bar.”

While at BBC Radio Suffolk Mr Knights worked alongside current commentator Brenner Woolley.

He said: “We started at a very similar time. I was very fortunate to have someone like that as almost a mentor figure.

“He did take me under his wing to a certain extent. He’s someone I had enormous respect for. He was a very funny man.”

Mr Woolley, who visited Mr Knights in hospital last week, said he was immensely passionate about his sport, his family and his friends, adding: “We always said we’d go before Bryan. There was an air of him being indestructible.”

Peter Cook, editor of BBC Radio Suffolk, said: “Bryan was a legend of a broadcaster. Many Town fans will have grown up listening to his commentaries and he really was the voice of Ipswich Town for season after season.

“Away from the microphone Bryan was a warm, kind man with a smile for everyone. We’ll miss him terribly.”

Irene Davey, a committee member of the Ipswich Town Supporters Club who also knew Mr Knights personally, added: “He was a very exuberant person. He was a good sportsman and a good commentator.”

Mr Knights’ wife, Penny, died last summer. He is survived by his son Jamie, daughter Emma and six grandchildren.