SUNDERLAND Echo digital editor and former football writer Ian Laws died suddenly last night. He was 41.
Ian took over the running of the Echo’s website in September 2010 but is best known as a long-serving Sunderland Football Club reporter.
He covered the club from the 105-point season in 1999 all the way through the last decade, faithfully recording the highs and lows under Peter Reid, Howard Wilkinson, Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane and Steve Bruce.
A former Monkwearmouth Comprehensive pupil, he took a journalism training course at Darlington in 1989 before fulfilling his ambition of becoming a fully-fledged journalist a year later.
starting out as a junior reporter at the Scarborough Evening News before moving on to the South Shields Gazette and then the Echo, where he initially started in news before moving on to his overwhelming passion as a writer, sport.
He had been out with friends playing football yesterday evening before returning home where he died shortly afterwards.
He leaves behind wife Kelly and children Lauren, James and Millie.
Sunderland Echo editor Rob Lawson said: “Ian was one of the most talented journalists I’ve had the pleasure to work with.
“He had a way with words and writing came effortlessly to him.
“I first met him many years ago when he started work at the Shields Gazette but he didn’t stay there long because he was always keen to get to what he always regarded as his paper – the Echo.
“I remember him telling me he’d got the SAFC writer’s job and to say he was thrilled was an understatement.
“Working alongside his friend and colleague Graeme Anderson, Ian provided brilliant coverage of his beloved Sunderland. He was a superb writer, very popular with the fans and well respected by the club.
“What I’ll remember about him is his cheeky sense of humour – he could be hilarious – and the love he had for his children, of whom he was so proud.
“Our thoughts and prayers today are with them and his wider family.”
Louise Wanless, media and communications manager at SAFC said: “Ian was a great journalist – principled and with an in-depth knowledge and passion for football and especially of course Sunderland and yet he retained a natural warmth and ability to get along with everyone he met.
“He had a wonderful sense of humour and truly came alive when talking about his children. I had the pleasure of working with him for nine years and he will be sadly missed personally by me and by everyone at the football club.
Niall Quinn said: “My thoughts are with Ian’s young family at this dreadful time and I was so saddened to hear the news of his passing.
“The relationship between a football club and its local paper is always an important one.
“Ian was a good friend to our club and as a local man on the local patch had a real understanding and feel for the club and what it meant to supporters. He was honest and decent and will be missed by all those who knew him and worked with him.”
•Echo readers, colleagues, Black Cats fans and others can leave their tributes to Ian in the comment box below.