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Alastair "Ali" Brownlee (14 April 1959 – 14 February 2016) was an English radio broadcaster best known for his coverage of Middlesbrough F.C. on BBC Tees from 1982 onwards. His connection to the club earned him the honorific "Voice of the Boro".[2]

Ali Brownlee
Alastair Brownlee

14 April 1959[1]
Middlesbrough, England
Died14 February 2016(2016-02-14) (aged 56)
OccupationRadio presenter, author, publisher
Years active1982–2016
Known forCoverage of Middlesbrough F.C. for BBC Tees and Century FM


Early lifeEdit

Brownlee was born on Byelands Street, Middlesbrough, close to the team's Ayresome Park ground. He attended school with comedian Bob Mortimer and worked in a bank before embarking on his media career.[2]


Brownlee covered over 1,000 matches for the team, and also presented BBC Tees' breakfast show.[3] From 1995 to 2007, Brownlee and partner Bernie Slaven worked for commercial station Century FM (now Heart North East), before the rights to Middlesbrough's matches returned to the BBC.[4]

He owned the publishing house Linthorpe Publishing, writing and printing works on Middlesbrough F.C. with his friend Gordon Cox, with titles including The Road to Eindhoven and The Class of ’86.[3][4]

Brownlee was a fundraiser for charities including Sport Relief, Children in Need and the hospice Zoe's Place. He lived in Linthorpe, was married to Wendy, and had two daughters, Alison and Emily.[2]

Illness and deathEdit

Brownlee was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2015, informing his listeners of his condition. He continued his coverage of Boro – then pushing for a return to the Premier League – until December. In Middlesbrough's Football League Cup match against Everton at the Riverside Stadium, the fans put on a light show in solidarity with him, covered live by Sky Sports. He fought his disease for three months before his death at 56. He died at home surrounded by his family. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.[3][2]

Middlesbrough F.C. chairman Steve Gibson mourned a "true friend", praising his career and charity, while former manager Tony Mowbray remembered his cheerful demeanour. Tributes also came from neighbouring clubs Hartlepool United and Sunderland alongside clubs from as far away as Everton and Stoke City.[2]

Brownlee's funeral cortege passed the Riverside and the site of Ayresome Park before a private service at St. Mary's Church in Acklam on 25 February.[5]


  1. ^ "Alastair Brownlee 14 April 1959 - 14 February 2016". The Co-operative Funeralcare. Archived from the original on 17 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Voice of the Boro Ali Brownlee of BBC Tees dies". BBC News. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Glover, Andrew (15 February 2016). "Ali Brownlee dead: Middlesbrough FC commentator passes away months after bowel cancer diagnosis". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b Robson, Dave (10 July 2007). "End of an era for radio duo". Gazette Live. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Ali Brownlee: Funeral for 'Voice of the Boro'". BBC News. 25 February 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2016.