ONE of Northern Ireland’s most gifted reporters has died.
Joe Gorrod, who was in his 70s, passed away overnight in Belfast.
Requiem Mass will be held for Joe this Friday, August 23 at 1 pm in St Malachy’s Catholic Church, Alfred Street, Belfast.
His remains will then be taken afterwards to Roselawn Crematorium.
For decades Joe, who was born in Sunderland but adopted Northern Ireland as his home, was the Mirror’s legendary reporter in Belfast.
He cut a dash in Belfast, standing at over 6ft tall, with his winkle picker shoes and his rugged Clint Eastwood looks.
Joe covered all the major events of the Troubles, including Bloody Sunday in Derry.
After retiring from the Mirror as a staffer in the late 1980s, Joe continued to work on a freelance basis for the Mirror and Sunday Mirror.
He also worked shifts on the now defunct Sunday News, turning his hand at copy rewriting and working on the news desk
When it closed on Mothering Sunday, in March 1993, he sent a message to rival Sunday Life editor Martin Lindsay which said: “Sunday News is no more.”
A fabulous raconteur, he was on first name terms with the editors of the Mirror group titles.
He loved to tell the story of him lying in a hospital bed while working in the Army Pay Corps and sleeping next to him was a ‘Shark Wrestler’.
“The nurses came round this evening and told us if we wanted to go to a dance the next night. Aye, we said,” recalled Joe
“So we put our best uniforms on and the guy in the bed beside me had this band on his arm with the letters ‘SW’.
“I said to him: ‘What does that stand for?’ He said: ‘Shark wrestler’. I said: ‘What? A shark wrestler!!!”
Joe said that at the dance the nurses fell his friend’s story. But not Joe.
“My CO (Commanding Officer) came in a few days later and I asked him to bring me in a military book on all definitions.
“So he did that and I looked it up….SW. There it was. He wasn’t a shark wrestler at all. SW stood for ‘Shallow Water.
“He was a shallow water diver – picking things like barnacles off the bottom of boats!!!!” cackled Joe.
Joe – or ‘Godrod’ to his friends – was probably the most talented tabloid writer of his generation.
He once wrote a whole story on the back of a cigarette box – only to throw it the window of a car after finishing off his last cigarette.
His famous line to cub reporters was: “If you can’t write the intro in 14 words, don’t write it at all!”
And if he spotted a rising star in journalism, he would puff on a cigarette and say: “Do you want a proper job kid? Who do you want to work for? The Mirror? Sunday Mirror? The People?”
Joe had a contacts book that was the rival of his colleagues and had contacts right across all walks of life.
He had a contact in the police who would receive a daily call from him with the opening words: “What’s new pussy cat?”
At the height of the Troubles, he worked alongside the Mirror’s legendary photographer ‘Commander’ Cyril Cain who passed away in 1997.
Joe Gorrod is survived by his wife Eileen and children.