Ex-league journalist Alan Clarkson dies

Alan Clarkson has been remembered as an immensely popular rugby league journalist whose solid news values earned him the trust and respect of players.

Clarkson died overnight, aged 85.

Best known for his work at the Sydney Morning Herald, his face was also easily recognisable thanks to three decades of television appearances on the panel of Controversy Corner alongside league greats Ferris Ashton and Rex Mossop.

Clarkson’s love for league developed young and flourished during his school days in Newcastle with South Sydney Immortal Clive Churchill.

He started at the SMH and Sun Herald in 1954, where he was chief writer from 1967 to 1989.

Over the years Clarkson covered several Kangaroo Tours, including 1967’s infamous `Bowler Hat’ tour, along with a tour of New Zealand in 1969 and the World Cup in the UK in 1970.

He also covered four Olympic Games and dabbled in tennis writing.

Author Ian Heads, who at the time was the rugby league journalist for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, remembers a healthy rivalry with Clarkson but an even stronger friendship.

“We were good mates,” Heads said.

“He was an immensely popular figure in the game, he was a journalist of the old school.

“He took pride in his work, and he had a great deal of respect for the players too – a real understanding of the hardness of the game they played.

“He established a situation of trust with the players of his generation.”

The NRL extended its condolences to Clarkson’s family, including his wife Toni and children Vicky and Anthony.

“Alan Clarkson was a legend in the field and will always be remembered fondly for the role he played in the game,” NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said.

Clarkson was awarded an OAM in 1990 for services to sport in journalism.

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