Bob Pryce obituary

<span>Bob Pryce In Amsterdam during the Euro 2000 football championship, on the morning of the Spain v Slovenia match</span><span>Photograph: from family/none</span>
Bob Pryce In Amsterdam during the Euro 2000 football championship, on the morning of the Spain v Slovenia matchPhotograph: from family/none

My former colleague Bob Pryce was one of several journalists of his generation who loved sport without being wholly obsessed with it, and found their natural home on the Guardian sports desk.

Bob, who has died aged 74, joined the paper in 1986 and immediately found a niche by covering the American sports that, with football at its nadir, were nibbling away at its pre-eminence in Britain. The national game bounced back; luckily he was equally at home with that, and for the next 20 years was a regular member of the Guardian’s troupe of football writers. He wrote his first report on the day Wimbledon made their debut in the top division. “So this is the big time,” it began.

His prose was flowing and witty, with occasional wild flights of fancy. When Reading were climbing the ladder, he likened them to Shaolin monks: “unprepossessing and unthreatening, yet able to walk through walls”. He enjoyed the old Saturday for Monday match reports that allowed time for rumination, and he also edited entertaining soccer diaries.

His main job, however, was in the office as a subeditor. “He had a lot of quirky information,” said the then sports editor Mike Averis, “and the writers felt in safe hands when he had their copy. He was very well-liked and very much at home on the Guardian of that time.”

Bob was born in London, the eldest of three sons of David Pryce, an RAF wing-commander who in wartime was in charge of accounts, and Joyce (nee Godfrey) whom his father had met in a bomb shelter at an airfield. In peacetime, Pryce senior had two postings to Singapore, so young Robert was sent to board at an early age, ending up at Shrewsbury school. He did not enjoy the experience much, but was a keen if limited sportsman.

Bob’s father bought a hotel in mid-Wales on retirement, and the whole family mucked in. Bob had one year at Keele University before making his way in journalism, including stints on Fruit Trades Journal, Table Tennis magazine, Time Out and the Times. He then spent the next 23 years on the Guardian, interrupted only by an exchange deal with the Age in Melbourne; his last three working years were spent on the Guardian business desk.

One thing he got from his schooldays was a lasting affection for Shrewsbury Town football club. In later years he and his youngest brother, Tony, followed the team round the country; for home games, their journeys always involved time-honoured rituals, starting with the 09.43 from Euston. Before that, he had been present in 2000 when Shrewsbury escaped relegation from the League at the last gasp. The Guardian let him throw away neutrality: “We got on the scrumpy and did not return home until noon yesterday, bleary, unshaven and relieved.”

His last years were blighted by fibrositis. He is survived by his brothers, Jonathan and Tony, three nephews and a niece.