Obituary

8th August 2008 at 01:00

Bob Crampsey, teacher, broadcaster, journalist and historian, has died, aged 78, after a lengthy battle against Parkinson's Disease.

He was a legend in Scottish sports journalism, which he pursued in parallel with teaching, a career which led him to the headship of St Ambrose High in Coatbridge.

Mr Crampsey was born and lived most of his life in Mount Florida, close to Hampden Park in Glasgow. After his schooling at Holyrood Secondary, he studied history at Glasgow University and took up teaching while in the RAF between 1952 and 1955.

His first post as a history teacher was at St Aloysius College in Glasgow. From there he became principal teacher of history at the old Bellarmine Secondary (now St Paul's High) in Pollok, moving later to Holyrood Secondary, where he became an assistant head.

He was appointed head of St Ambrose High in 1974. His old friend, Peter Mullen, former head of Holyrood Secondary, recalls that councillors were jubilant at attracting such a public figure - by that time famous for his appearance on Scotsport - to run one of their schools.

He was an old-fashioned headteacher, a largely pastoral, symbolic figure, recalls Mr Mullen. The agenda of the late 1970s and 1980s, when heads were increasingly expected to be more accountable, not to mention building partnerships with parents, failed to chime with Mr Crampsey.

"Bob liked to do his own thing. He was a very easy man to get on with, a polymath. He used to lecture on the American musicals at Strathclyde University," said Mr Mullen.

He remembers Mr Crampsey as a wonderful raconteur, who would attract a crowd of fellow heads at conferences in St Andrews, anxious to hear about the great and good in sport or get a preview of that week's Scotsport.

Mr Crampsey retired early in 1987 to concentrate on his many other interests, mainly in the media and after-dinner speaking. He was an accomplished pianist and a member of the Royal College of Music. He wrote biographies of prominent men, from Jock Stein to Sir Thomas Lipton, as well as books on the 1938 Empire Exhibition and his boyhood in wartime Glasgow. He won the Brain of Britain title in 1965, and his knowledge of the American Civil War took him to the later stages of the BBC's Mastermind in 1973. His long stewardship of the Evening Times newspaper's "Now You Know" feature won him many followers. He was also one of the first recipients of a Churchill Scholarship, in 1970, which enabled him to visit the USA and increase his knowledge of the Civil War.

One of his great passions was cricket, but it was as a football commentator on the fledgling Scotsport team in 1955 that he became a household name. A Queen's Park follower all his life, he wrote, spoke about and loved the game for the game's sake.

He was married to Ronnie for 50 years and had four daughters and four grandchildren.

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