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A tribute to Brian Roach

I come from a family of football fans. My great grandfather, Charles Roach, is still something of a legend for Southall Football Club, more than 100 years after he played for the club. He still holds the record for most goals in one season for Southall (57).

My grandfather Dennis Roach played at a decent standard as a goalkeeper and my Dad, Brian Roach, played at amateur level for Henley Town.

My brother and I have a few things in common. We played football for fun and we have a background in journalism.

My Dad, who passed away in February after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, was my inspiration for setting up Broadcast Reach. After his death, I decided to combine my skills, experience and expertise and launch a new business. The name of the business bears the same initials as him and Reach is only one letter different from our surname.

Even when he was at an advanced stage of the disease, during one of my visits to see him at the care home in his final year, he told me that he was convinced that constant heading of the ball as a defender contributed to his Alzheimer’s. Perhaps fittingly, the care home is very close to Henley Town FC’s ground.

I will be donating some of the profits from the business to Alzheimer’s Research.

I was, of course, influenced by my Dad. He was a journalist and PR consultant and so was I.

Aside from my personal memories of my Dad, I have a strong recollection of the status he achieved during his career and how highly he was respected by his peers. They also remember him for his particular style of humour (‘Dad Jokes’ is a good enough description) and I have inherited that sense of humour from him.

My Dad started out as a sports journalist on his local newspaper, the Reading Chronicle, and went on to become a PR executive – working on accounts including The National Lottery – and even a football agent, for former England players Kerry Dixon, Lee Dixon and Brian Marwood.

He was in the press box at Reading FC home games for many years, supplying match reports to national newspapers, and was a regular in the media gantry at the Madejski Stadium (as it was known previously), before his Alzheimer’s kicked in.

I remember him being a sponsorship manager. He oversaw Formula One, rallying, snooker and even acrobatic skiing sponsorships for Rothmans and Peter Stuyvesant.

In terms of something that highlights the way my Dad applied himself during his career in media and sport, a good example was how he helped to block the proposed merger of Reading FC and Oxford United in 1983.

He was a key part of former Reading chairman Roger Smee’s team that successfully thwarted Robert Maxwell’s bid to create a new team that would be known as ‘Thames Valley Royals’.

Before, during and after his funeral service and wake, I heard so many stories about what a good man my Dad was, how helpful he was to others, how highly he was respected and what people thought about his humour.

So, as a fitting tribute to my Dad, I will leave you with one of his favourite jokes:
What do you call a baguette in a cage? Bread in captivity.

Thanks for the memories Dad.

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