RESPECTED and renowned sports journalist, Brian Gaffney (59), has joined the big newsroom in the sky on Tuesday, 25 July, after a month long illness.

The affectionately named “Uncle Brian” will be sorely missed by family and friends and his passing has left a big Brian Gaffney shaped hole in community sport as a whole.
This determined, multi-award winning “walking encyclopaedia” has, after all, graced countless of touchlines and thousands of back pages since 1970.

Dr Ivan Meyer, MEC of Cultural Affairs and Sport, acknowledged that Brian played a “critical role” in promoting sport amongst the people, particularly those living in the Cape Flats.
“He was a tireless fighter and often fearless in his quest to expose the wrongs in sport,” added Meyer.
Brian was born to accumulate a vast sum of knowledge and share it with people he cared about, so it comes as no surprise that long time friend Herman Gibbs said: “He found his niche in community newspapers.”

He was, first and foremost, a loving husband, father and grandfather.
His wife, Vanessa, has a hatful of fond memories of their 24 years together. What will stay with her forever is how her “teddy bear” used to spontaneously burst into his favourite song, “I’m leaving, on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again …”
Before too long, a duet of perfect unity and understanding would permeate their world.

“Those were special moments,” she smiled.
“We met on a sports field while I was playing softball. He was a very good photographer, because he ‘zoomed’ me in! It wasn’t long before we were married.”
The two became four when Sasha (23) and Callan (19) were born and in 2009 the birth of Zarah made a grandfather of “Uncle Brian”.

Vanessa concedes that she also likes sport, but unlike her husband, she wasn’t “110% obsessed” with it.
“He never stopped talking about it. At 01:00 in bed he would tell me that I’m good company and then continued talking about sport.”
This insatiable appetite for sport and a diligent pursuit of perfection in his chosen profession meant he was destined for greatness.

The first editor of People’s Post, Annelien Dean, recognised these rare qualities immediately.
“I remember when I interviewed him in 2006 for the position of sports journalist. He had an immense knowledge of the subject and I felt a deep urge to bring him in,” she said.
It was a decision she never regretted. In 2009 Brian was awarded the runner-up prize in the Sanlam National Community Press Awards in the sports writing category and in 2010 he was awarded the Vodacom Regional Journalist Award for his exposé titled, “No Saints at all”.

Dean continued: “Having been able to work with him was a privilege. He was a consummate gentleman with compelling authority.”
Brian’s good friend and People’s Post photographer, Rashied Isaacs, said that this authority translated into respect.
“All the photographers at the World Cup knew him. Uncle Brian was like a daddy to us.”
Isaacs reckons the World Cup was a highlight for Brian. “I might think after a game that it was a boring draw, but he would analyse it from a different perspective. He was one of a kind. I lost a dear friend and mentor.”

Gilbert Kruger knew Brian for 30 years and said he will always remember him for his “thoroughness and fairness”, his willingness to assist someone in need and his constant presence next to the sports fields.

Even though Brian and sport were synonymous, acting editor of People’s Post, Feroza Miller-Isaacs, emphasises that one shouldn’t forget about all the other legacies he left behind when she concluded: “It was reassuring to pass Brian’s desk and engage in some chatter about his love of gardening and cooking, his pride in his wife’s catering business and his adoration of his grandchild.”

For a brief moment Vanessa’s eyes sparkled with tears. “We will all miss him.”
She looks at her husband’s temporarily unkempt garden and is comforted by the thought that the Strelitzia would soon be blossoming with orange flowers once again.