Death of one of local sport's fiercest champions

Torbay Weekly

The world of South Devon sport and journalism has lost one of its best and fiercest champions with the death of Bob Hill.

Bob's long career at the Herald Express spanned both its Braddons Hill Road offices in Torquay town centre and at Barton Hill Road.

He was part of an extraordinarily talented and committed editorial team which enabled the paper to reach a daily sale of well over 30,000 at one point, often outperforming its better-resourced rivals with bigger circulation areas.

Bob, whose other great passions were the South Devon Railway and Chelsea FC, worked as a reporter for many years, building up a formidable array of contacts whom he used to great effect during almost a quarter-of-a-century as sports editor.

His job demanded mastery of production, design and, of course, words, and coolness under the pressures of at least twice-daily editions. He had all those qualities in abundance.

Never more so than on Saturdays when the Herald brought out a sports (buff) edition which had to be on the streets, complete with blow-by-blow Torquay United reports, pictures, national and regional results, tables etc within 45 minutes of the final whistle.

Bob was at his finest on the May 1987 day when Bryn the police dog bit Jim McNichol's thigh at Plainmoor, Torquay United equalising in the resulting stoppage-time to stay in the Football League on goal-difference - within minutes, he ripped apart one planned 'buff' front page, put together another, complete with the new headline 'By The Skin Of Their Teeth!' and still hit edition-time.

Woe betide anyone who threatened to interrupt Bob's 'flow' at moments like that, but the result was always a polished product, including some truly brilliant and arresting pages which many readers still treasure to this day.

His funeral will be held at Churston Church at midday on Wednesday, September 29.