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Bob Hunt: Tributes pour in for BBC legend and ‘the voice of Forest Green’

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Tributes from the footballing world have poured in following the death of legendary Forest Green football commentator, Bob Hunt.

Hunt,70, covered Forest Green from the late 1980s and followed their rise from the Southern League to League Two. In a stellar commentary career, Bob handed the microphone to his son Billy four years ago after poor health forced him to hang up the mic.

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Bob and Billy Hunt toast Rovers’ Wembley success in 2017

It was his commentary of Rovers play-off promotion win in 2017 that was replayed around the world and made it on to BBC One’s  Have I Got News For You,  when he roared down the microphone: “Let me tell you this – Cheltenham, Swindon, Newport – you are going to eat hummus next season, because Forest Green Rovers are in the Football League!” His off the cuff words have since been immortalised on the staircase wall at the New Lawn.

Bob’s legendary radio moments even made it into the National Football Museum with a permanent home for his memorable clip when placing a £3 bet on Forest Green to win 5-1 away at Alfreton at odds of 125-1 in 2011 – only to have it snatched out of his hands when Yan Klukowski put away a sixth in the 96 minute. The anguish in his voice was almost palpable as co-commentator Colin Peake helped him through his misery.

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Bob and Billy on duty at Bradford City

As well as football and cricket commentary, he commentated on rugby, horse racing and at the 400th anniversary of the Cotswold Olimpicks, where he described a contestant in the sack race as “bounding like a demented kangaroo in lane five”. Bob also worked freelance for SKY, covering Swansea City.

Former Forest Green manager Frank Gregan led the tributes, he said: “I know that all the staff and players during my tenure at Forest Green Rovers will be saddened  to hear of the passing of Bob Hunt. 

“I did countless interviews with him both pre match and post match and he was one of those guys that was able to avoid annoying you even when asking the most difficult questions.  He had the knack of being able to act as a spokesman for the supporters, asking the question that they wanted answering. He made you feel as if you were speaking to the supporters through him. A real talent and a thoroughly nice guy.”

Roger Price, executive producer, BBC Radio Gloucestershire said: “Bob Hunt was one of those rare people who could paint a vivid picture with a few simple words; and at the key moment make the listener laugh or cry with a humdinger of a pay-off line. Radio Gloucestershire could not have had a finer exponent of the commentator’s art.”

Steve Kitchen, sports editor for BBC Radio Gloucestershire said: “My first work for BBC Radio Gloucestershire was as the Gloucestershire cricket reporter and every Sunday Bob would join me, we did commentary from the one-day games.

“We just had the most amazing times – fun like I’d never had before and I’ve never had since on the radio – not just on-air, but off-air as well.

“Part of being a sports journalist is you spend a lot of time on the road travelling to and from and the best company was Bob Hunt – absolutely priceless.”

Paul Furley, sports reporter at BBC Radio Gloucestershire, added: “Bob was a connoisseur of farce – he always kept an eye out for it, but often it found him – things just seemed to happen wherever he went and Bob made the most of it, an ability that could turn the most mundane fixture into an event.

“Never taking himself, or his subject matter, too seriously meant Bob was a perfect fit to follow Forest Green Rovers, as well as Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, but he also covered Gloucester City AFC and Cheltenham Town FC.

“There were also times we sent him to report from Gloucester Rugby, Cheltenham Racecourse, synchronised swimming and the Cotswold Olimpicks because he was a commentator you didn’t have to like sport to love listening to.”

Bob’s son Billy Hunt said: “Dad loved being a part of Forest Green. Him and the club were a perfect match, doing things another way.

“Whilst his commentary may not have been the most professional he focused on making people laugh and ensuring people were entertained, no matter what the result.

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Bob and Billy worked together for BBC Radio Gloucestershire

“I couldn’t ask much more then working with my Dad, commentating on a club we both support. The memories of going up and down the country with him and working together at Wembley to see Forest Green get promoted will live with me for a lifetime. There will be many memories of Dad and I know he would have put a smile on anyone’s face who knew or listened to him.”

Stroud Times’ editor Ash Loveridge, who worked as a co-commentator alongside Bob’s son Billy, said: “Bob gave so much to Forest Green in his own unique style. Even when he got the occasional tongue-lashing from various managers over the years, it never ruffled his feathers and he always managed to laugh it off.

“I remember one commentary where he was actually ejected by an over-zealous Forest Green steward, but eventually made it back into the ground to resume his commentary. Ultimately, he was a very kind man, who loved life and people and I’ll never forget him.”

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