RIP, David Lord: Australian sports journalism icon was ‘always thoughtful and thought-provoking’


David Lord has been remembered as an icon of Australian sports journalism following his death, aged 84.

The renowned writer and broadcaster was an accomplished cricketer in his youth, captaining Mosman in first grade, before spending several decades covering a range of sports for newspaper, television and radio. 

He was a long-time contributor to The Roar, publishing 2,500 articles over a prolific stretch over the course of a decade which ended in 2019.

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys paid tribute to “a respected journalist and broadcaster who always approached his reporting in a balanced way”.

“He covered many sports throughout his long career and when he delved into rugby league it was always thoughtful and thought-provoking.

David Lord with rugby league Noel Kelly (left) in 2017.

“David was also a gentleman in every dealing. He was respectful and kind. He was also extremely passionate – he was in constant communication with the NRL in his quest to make Ken Irvine an Immortal.

“On behalf of the Commission I extend my condolences to David’s family and friends.”

Lord spent the majority of his career with the ABC after starting out as a writer for the now defunct Sydney Sun newspaper in 1967. 

He called rugby league matches on 2KY with former Great Britain international John Gray, and later worked for 2BL. He was also an accomplished author, writing several books on Australian sport.

After replacing none other than Richie Benaud as The Sun’s cricket correspondent, he launched his own magazine, David Lord’s World of Cricket in the early 1970s.

It covered cricket globally with special correspondents from England (Ian Wooldridge, Michael Melford and Alex Bannister), India (Niran Prabhu), Australia (David Lord), South Africa (Peter Pollock), West Indies (Tony Cozier), Pakistan (Anwar Hussain) and New Zealand (Don Cameron).

His coverage of the World Series Cricket revolution in 1977 earned the ire of Kerry Packer with the controversial media mogul taking Lord to court at one stage.

David Lord’s cricket magazine was popular in the 1970s.

“They were heady days. And believe me, being on the wrong side of Kerry Packer is not pleasant,” he said in a video for The Roar.

Lord was also the manager of Australian fast bowler Jeff Thomson, who turned his back on Packer’s fat contract offer to stay with the establishment. 

He was also one of the driving forces behind the near establishment of a global rugby union competition after getting 208 players signed up but the venture fell through when a television deal could not be sealed. Packer, not surprisingly, held a grudge from the World Series Cricket days and refused to negotiate with Lord.

While Lord’s professional rugby competition never got off the ground, it helped create the impetus for the first World Cup in 1987. He reflected on the turbulent time for a video for The Roar seven years ago.

Former editor of The Roar, Zac Zavos, remembered Lord as someone who lived for the thrill of telling the highs and lows of sport.

“He wrote every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I remember he said to me ‘writing is the thing that I do’,” he recalled. 

“He’d cover everything. His true love was cricket. There’s some absolutely amazing stories that he’s written about, which is what we encouraged him to do. To tell the stories about Kerry Packer and Tony Greig, and that kind of stuff.

“The thing that kept him going was watching sport and writing. That’s what he did. He was a really important contributor to The Roar at a really critical stage of where we were going and that’s why we were always so loyal to him. But that was only one part of his career – he had this huge previous era as a sportsman and the doyen of Australian sports media. 

David Lord, first-grade cricketer and journalist on The Sun, uses television as a training tool in an indoor practice centre, January 1972. DAILY SUN Picture by STAFF

“He probably lived the way he wrote, with courageous grit.”

Lord also wrote about Bob Hawke’s love affair with sport, the impact Mike Willesee had on the AFL and countless other household names whose story he knew inside and out.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald in 2007 during the final years of his stint with the ABC, he said the highlight of his career in journalism was covering Kay Cottee’s six-month solo round-the-world yacht voyage in 1988.

“We’d wait in the studio for hours for her to ring in from somewhere. It was riveting radio. I just couldn’t believe that a lady with a hole in the heart could do that single-handedly.”

Even when he stopped writing for The Roar, he continued writing on a Patreon page entitled Lord Knows, maintaining his tireless work ethic into his 80s, filing his last piece as recently as last week. 

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