Sheffield Star's Paul Davis talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
Sheffield Star reporter Les Payne is set for a Wembley swansong tomorrow afternoon, a man held in ‘high esteem’ by everyone, says the man replacing him as Millers reporter.
Les will be reporting on the Millers for the final time at the play-off final against Leyton Orient, ending a run of 46 years as a journalist and a long association of reporting on his beloved Rotherham United which started way back in 1969.
“The more you talk to people about Les Payne, the more one word crops up,” said Paul Davis, deputy sports editor at The Star, the man replacing Les as their Millers writer and, like Les, a lifelong supporter of the club.
"That word is 'respect'.
“He is held in as high esteem by his peers as any journalist I have ever known. No matter how busy he is or how fast a deadline is approaching, he always has time for everybody. Whether you're Tony Stewart or a young fan at your first game, Les will be there for you, listening intently and taking note of your opinion.
“He has a deep love, knowledge and understanding of the game, and if you want to check out some little-known fact or statistic, it's not books or the internet where you head first, it's straight to Les - he knows everything!
“For more years than I care to remember, it has fallen to me to sub-edit his match reports. No-one can call a game like Les. His reports are utterly compelling and have elements of football insight beyond any other writer. I read them like a fan and always end thinking 'yep, that's exactly the game I was at'.
“His analytical pieces, where he steps back and takes an overview of the club and certain situations, can be works of art: beautifully crafted, crammed with original, clever thinking and written in his own quirky, inimitable style.”
Les was given a grand send off at his last home game reporting on the Millers against Preston North End in the play-off semi-final second leg. The New York Stadium press room is now bestowed with his name, whilst he was also presented with a framed shirt by Chairman Tony Stewart in front of a packed house. We are sure that isn’t the end for Les who will no doubt be supporting the Millers next season and beyond as Paul explains.
“Happily, retirement won't keep him away from New York Stadium,” adds Paul.
“He'll still be there as a spectator next season, with a word for everyone and a great stat or two up his sleeve that no-one else has come up with.
“It's been a professional honour to work with this true gentleman and it remains a personal privilege to call him one of my dearest friends.
“Nearly everyone knows him. Everyone who knows him, respects him. We won't see his unique like again.
“Fans don't sing about journalists, but if they did it would be: "There's only one Les Payne.”