This Tuesday, February 14th, marks the first anniversary of the passing of Alastair Brownlee.

For many, one tribute placed outside the Ayresome Park gates summed it up, Alastair Brownlee, to the best friend I never met. 

The broadcasting legend was a friend to so many and his untimely passing at 56 was felt by thousands, but of course more by his family and Benjamin, his faithful Labrador - you can't really explain to a dog why his master isn't coming home can you?

Alastair's family have quietly gone about rebuilding their lives. It was his eldest daughter Alison's birthday on Thursday and with her sister Emily and Alastair's wife Wendy, sister Jenny and mum and dad Malcolm and Mavis, there is evidence that this close family have drawn strength from public support as well as each other. 

There is great dignity in what they do, and they are keen that Alastair's life is one to be celebrated, though had the events of the summer of 1986 taken a different turn it is quite possible that many would not have heard, or even heard of, the man who grew to be known as the Voice of the Boro.

The summer of '86 was one filled with concern for the club he loved. The history books tell how it was saved and there are plenty minutes, indeed hours, of airtime of commentaries of the games from that season onwards.

For it was around that time that BBC local radio was given clearance to step up coverage from 30 second reports on the telephone to match commentary on a dedicated line put into grounds especially for that purpose.

Now, virtually all commentaries come over ISDN lines, every ground has them. Back then, if you wanted a line to commentate down, it had to be installed specifically - and when you got the ground you had to wire your equipment in with what had been left by the GPO, or British Telecom. All this for 45 minutes, which was all that was allowed. Full commentaries were twice the price and something not often indulged in, until they became norm and are now taken for granted.

It was fun, he enjoyed what he did, we enjoyed what we did, and that came across clearly, sometimes too clearly as we once missed describing a goal at Plymouth while waxing lyrically about Cornish pasties!

It wasn't done for the money either, there were occasions when the match fee just about covered the cost of getting to a game, and occasions when it didn't.

It was done because of the love of what we were doing.

Back then, in '86, it was just the start. For the club and for a man who would go on to commentate on around 1,800 games. 

Gordon Cox.