Norfolk sports stars pay tribute as mentor loses cancer battle

Kim BriscoeA selection of Norfolk's sporting stars will be among the guests at the funeral of their mentor Ronnie Brooks when it takes place later this month.Kim Briscoe

A selection of Norfolk's sporting stars will be among the guests at the funeral of their mentor Ronnie Brooks when it takes place later this month.

Former Sheriff of Norwich Mr Brooks, who worked for Norwich Lads' Club and Norwich City Football Club, died from cancer on Monday. The former Norwich City and Norfolk County Councillor's funeral will be held at 1.15pm on Tuesday, January 19, at Norwich Cathedral.

Former Norwich City Football Club player 'Disco' Dale Gordon is one of the sporting stars to have paid tribute to Mr Brooks, who helped to develop a wealth of young talent through his role a chief scout for the club.

He said: 'I was only eight when I met Ronnie and he brought me to Norwich City for a trial when they trained at Trowse.

'I used to get the train through and Ronnie used to pick me up at the station and take me to the training ground, and my dad as well sometimes.

'Ronnie even used to give me football boots and he paid for things like train fares, and often out of his own pocket.

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'He saw the potential I had as a kid. Without Ronnie's influence, and his passion and his dedication I wouldn't have achieved what I did.

'He discovered Ruel Fox and Louie Donowa and was big part of the success of the youth team.'

Norwich heavyweight boxer Sam Sexton said he would be fighting for Ronnie in his next bout, when he takes on veteran Danny Williams for the British title at Wembley Arena next month.

He said: 'I was lucky to meet Ronnie through the boxing world. He had a way about him that when he walked in the gym, everybody knew he was there, he had a powerful presence.

'Ronnie also helped me back on my feet after my first loss, which devastated me. I went to see him at his home, we had a long chat and after some very wise words I dusted myself down and got back on track to train harder than I ever have before.

'He saw something in me from day one and told me that I was going to be a champion one day. The last time I spoke to Ronnie I told him the next one was for him.

'He was a great man and played a big part in a lot of lives.'

Norfolk motorcycle racer Sam Bishop said: 'I knew Ronnie Brooks as he was a relation of my girlfriend, Cassie, and her family, and I got to know him well in recent years.

'Although well known and much respected in the sporting circles of both football and boxing, Ronnie always took a keen interest in my own sport of motorcycle racing and offered me great encouragement. He and his wife, Stephanie, helped celebrate my 2009 championship win at a recent party before he sadly became ill.

'Ronnie was a true gentleman and a great role model to me and I know he will be missed by a great many people.'

Mr Brooks' family have requested strictly no flowers at the funeral and are instead asking people to donate in his memory to help fund the Big C's work in Norwich.

Donations can be sent care of Allcock Family Funeral Services, Falcon House, 96A City Road, Norwich NR1 2HD.

Would you like pay tribute to Ronnie? Email reporter Kim Briscoe at email