Tributes paid to a Norfolk sporting hero

Kim BriscoeNorfolk's sporting community is mourning the loss of a much-loved and well-respected figure.Kim Briscoe

Norfolk's sporting community is mourning the loss of a much-loved and well-respected figure.

Former Norwich City Football Club chief scout Ronnie Brooks died from cancer in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Mr Brooks, 78, of Hevingham, is credited with discovering the football talent of the Fashanu brothers and, after leaving the Canaries, he became immensely popular through his role as manager of Norwich Lads' Club for boxers.

Graham Everett, who is currently training boxer Sam Sexton and also trained Jon Thaxton, said: 'Ronnie Brooks was a genuine, true friend and he was always there with words of wisdom and support for all.

'He was a true ambassador and supporter for Norfolk sport, and will be sadly missed.'

Two-time world heavyweight champion boxer Herbie Hide said: 'I have a lot of memories of him. He was always on my side. If I look back to the time I was always in trouble, whatever I was doing, he was always behind me. He was a great friend and I'm so sad to have lost him.'

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It was not just through sports that Mr Brooks made an impact on people's lives - he was also a Norwich City Councillor, a Norfolk County Councillor and a magistrate.

He left Alderman Jex School at the age of 14 and went to work for the electricity board, before taking on various roles at Norwich City, including manager of the 'A' team, chief scout and coaching the youth team.

A staunch member of the Labour Party and a Sheriff of Norwich in 1974, Mr Brooks was one of seven brothers and five sisters and was born in Bull Close Road, Norwich. Through his family history he was entitled to, and indeed he took up, the title Freeman of Norwich.

Wife Stephanie, 58, said her husband's diagnosis of cancer just three weeks ago had come as a great shock to all who knew him.

She said having grown up in a cramped council house, he was immensely proud of his home and garden, and enjoyed singing and following Norwich City Football Club.

Mrs Brooks said: 'We used to go walking and wherever we went he always saw people and stopped and talked to them. I was always struck by how many people came up to him in Norwich and thanked him for getting them a council house or for helping them at the lads' club.'

Do you want to pay tribute to Mr Brooks? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email