Tributes paid to ‘broadcasting giant’ Adam Coates

Adam Coates moved to Belfast in 1964 but it wasn't until the 1980s that he began presenting Sportsound
Adam Coates moved to Belfast in 1964 but it wasn't until the 1980s that he began presenting Sportsound

Former BBC Northern Ireland sports presenter Adam Coates – who died on Thursday at the age of 76 – has been described as “a giant of a broadcaster” in warm tributes from friends and colleagues.

Known to a generation of Irish League fans as the voice of Saturday afternoon’s Sportsound on BBC Radio Ulster, he is remembered fondly for his warm personality, droll humour and obvious ability as both a sports broadcaster and writer.

Originally from a village in Aberdeenshire, Adam Coates began his career in journalism at the Sunday Post in Glasgow at the age of 18.

In 1964 – at the age of 22 – he moved to Belfast and, after around 10 years, began working for the Daily Mail before getting his big break at the BBC in the 1980s.

It was at the BBC that Mr Coates took on the role of Sportsound presenter each Saturday afternoon, earning him a place in the hearts of Irish League fans across Northern Ireland.

Former colleague Joel Taggart was amongst those to pay tribute.

He said: “He had the perfect broadcasting voice. He was that soundtrack, he and Jackie Cummings, for the Irish League for so much of the late 1980s, the 1990s and the early 2000s. There are so many people who say ‘I grew up listening to Adam Coates’ and I suppose that is the perfect legacy.”

He continued: “Having grown up listening to him, to then have the chance to work with him and to learn from him, it was such a privelege.

“He was the nicest man. His knowledge was encyclopaedic. We are lucky in that we have many great sports writers here and great sports broadcasters, but he was both.”

Liam Beckett, one of Northern Ireland’s best known sporting figures and a pundit for the BBC, said: “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody say a bad word about Adam, and that means a lot nowadays. He was an absolute colossus at what he did and he has left a hole that will never be filled. Journalism and broadcasting is a lot worse off today at the loss of Adam Coates.”

Mr Coates was a father of one and grandfather of three. A private family burial will take place followed by a thanksgiving service in Roselawn Crematorium Church on Thursday, April 5 at 1pm.