Colin Slater MBE, the BBC Radio Nottingham Sports Broadcaster who spent over half a century covering the fortunes of Notts County FC, died on Monday 10 January at the age of 87.
Colin's match commentaries made him a part of the family for households of Notts County supporters. He was the first person to commentate on the Magpies on Radio Nottingham, joining them in 1968 - the year the radio station was first established. He continued in the role well into his eighties, finally handing over to Charlie Slater (no relation) at the start of the 2017-18 season. However, even after ‘retiring’ he still maintained an active interest in the club right up until this year – chairing the former players association, the club’s Hall of Fame committee and writing regularly in the matchday programme.
To put Colin’s time commentating on Notts into perspective he covered 41 different managers (including three stints by Jimmy Sirrel), seven promotions and seven relegations. Even before he began commentating at BBC Nottingham he played a crucial role at Notts County FC, in 1965 helping the club to secure investment when it was on the verge of extinction in 1965.
His commentaries won him many famous fans, including John Motson, who has previously described him as "one of the doyens of the broadcasting industry" and "a member of the commentators' cabinet." Former Notts County manager Neil Warnock told BBC Nottingham: "In the media you get scrutinized a lot, but Colin was above all that. He was almost like a friend. Anything I wanted to tell him I could tell him. He was always a gentleman. He just lit up the room.”
The last two decades have seen Slater receive various awards and accolades in and outside of the Nottingham. He was appointed MBE in 2001, for both his contribution to radio, his work with the Football Association, and his role as the Deputy Chairman of the Nottingham Bench of Magistrates (NBoM). In 2009 he received a lifetime achievement award from the Sony Radio Academy.
In 2014 he was inducted into the Notts County FC Hall of Fame. In 2015, he had a tram named after him by Nottingham Express Transit. In 2016 Castle Rock brewed a beer in his name (a 4.2% chocolate porter). In 2017, he was named as an Honorary Life President of Notts County. He was also given honorary degrees by both Nottingham-based universities (NTU in 2014 and University of Nottingham in 2018).
Speaking personally, his voice echoed throughout my childhood. The early nineties were a great time to be a teenage Notts County supporter with consecutive play-off winning promotions under Neil Warnock. My dad took me to watch most of the home games, but away games were a stretch too far. Thus many an evening was spent tuning into the crackly Radio Nottingham FM and listening to his voice describing away trips from the back room of our semi-detached in Sherwood.
The relationship continued over the next few decades. Then in October 2017 at the premiere of the film I directed, The Lord of Milan at Broadway Cinema, I noticed him in the audience. We’d invited various press to come for the occasion, but he wasn’t on our press list and had just bought a ticket. The fact he was interested felt like a real honour. At the end I went over to introduce myself, he said he’d enjoyed it and would be writing about it in the next edition of his column in the Notts County programme. Thankfully the review was positive and I’ve kept that programme in a special place in my home to this day.
Rest In Peace Colin ‘Mr Notts County’ Slater.
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