A journalist who has spent more than 50 years working in the media has written his story. Andrew White speaks to Guy Williams about his book, 'A Miner's Lamp And A Brass Table'.

Guy Williams started his first job in journalism at BBC Radio Leicester in September 1970. He's still writing today and has seen a lot of changes in the more than five decades he's been reporting on news and sport - mainly in his beloved Yorkshire.

But one thing which hasn't changed is his love of sport - particularly cricket and rugby union - a thread which runs throughout this marvellous memoir.

Anecdotes featuring legendary names like cricketers Don Bradman, Geoffrey Boycott and Dickie Bird and rugby greats Sir Ian McGeechan - who has written the book's foreword -and Will Carling pepper the pages of Guy's fascinating and often humorous romp through his varied career.

But it's not confined to sports stars. Tales of broadcasters like Richard Whiteley, TV stars such as Les Dawson and some of the many heavyweight politicians he has encountered sit easily alongside many less familar but no less worthy names like heroic RNLI coxwain Brian Bevan, whose stories Guy tells with passion and pride.

The Northern Echo: A Miner's Lamp And A Brass Table is the memoir of Guy Williams, who has been a journalist for more than 50 yearsA Miner's Lamp And A Brass Table is the memoir of Guy Williams, who has been a journalist for more than 50 years (Image: ANDREW WHITE)

But why has he chosen now to commit his memories to print?

"First of all, I had time to fill," says Guy, who started the project during lockdown.

"I did quite a lot of research and I did feel that there were one or two stories that may be of interest to other people."

He recalled encounters from his early days as a young reporter with Yorkshire Television (YTV). During his first weeks in Leeds, he lived in a guest house often used by visiting actors, and Guy recalls the great Leonard Rossiter causing mischief and mayhem at breakfast time.

And he also remembers meeting one of his sporting heroes, the great fast bowler Fred Trueman, just 15 minutes into his first day, when the blunt Yorkshiremman strode up to him in a cloud of pipe smoke to introduce himself.

But, says Guy, the main motivation for writing the book was because his grandchildren had moved to Qatar.

"I had a strong relationship with my own grandparents, but because my grandchildren were living thousands of miles away I wouldn't have much contact with them and one way of bringing my family story to them was to put pen to paper," he says

Once the book got underway, Guy's grandchildren returned to the UK - but he had got the bug, the memories started flowing, and long-forgotten details were recalled.

"I came across a wide variety of people in my career from a wide variety of backgrounds and I thought readers might find their stories interesting," he says.

One anecdote he recalls is a chance encounter with a survivor of the 1958 Munich Air disaster, which robbed the great Manchester United team of that era of several fine players.

But it wasn't just footballers on that plane. Years later Guy bumped into journalist Frank Taylor at a rugby union game in Wakefield. Taylor, who had been badly injured in the crash, approached Guy and the pair ended up chatting for hours about those terrible events in the clubhouse.

"We had a fantastic time in the bar," says Guy. "Fantastic because I just listened to his stories about Munich, the players and how Matt Busby had revived the club. It was a devastating blow and I met someone who survived the crash - I couldn't believe it."

The Northern Echo: Jopurnalist Guy Williams has written a book about his career, which includes encounters with sporting greats, heavyweight politicians and TV starsJopurnalist Guy Williams has written a book about his career, which includes encounters with sporting greats, heavyweight politicians and TV stars (Image: GUY WILLIAMS)

Aside from sport, Guy's other passion has been politics and the book details encounters with some of the most influential figures over the last half a century - Denis Healy, John Prescott and Roy Jenkins among them.

Guy spent some time in the North East, teaching newspaper journalism and public affairs at Darlington College which gave him the opportunity to invite some of the region's top political figures to address students.

These included Tony Blair's agent John Burton - "warm and genial," says Guy - the "polished" former Hartlepool MP Peter Mandelson and former Darlington MP Alan Milburn, who he recalls being "angry and sharp" with a female student who had asked a pointed question he took exception to.

Sprinkled liberally with references to some of the biggest news stories he has been involved in over the years - a 1974 kidnap attempt of Princess Anne, a 1976 riot in Hull Prison and the 1989 Hillborough disaster among them - Guy ends his memoir with a look to the future.

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Still writing at the age of 76, he tells me: "It's still fun to do stories. In my particular case, I've been able to do stories since the 1970s about people stretching back to the generation of Len Hutton to the present day and the likes of Joe Root and Harry Brook.

"It's been interesting and I'd like to carry on for a bit longer."

A Miner's Lamp and a Brass Table: A Yorkshire Reporter's Story is available from  YorkBookshop.com by clicking yorkbookshop.com/