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Tribute to NUJ member Dan Lucas

27 March 2017

Colleagues and friends have been shocked and saddened by the sudden death of sport and music writer Dan Lucas, who died suddenly of heart failure on 12 March aged 31.

Dan wrote for the music websites Drowned in Sound and Louder Than War, and later on sport for the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, where he became a stalwart of their popular cricket and rugby union liveblogs.

Born in Northampton to parents Gary and Tracey, and older brother to his sister Kirsty, he studied at Lancaster University, where he first indulged his passion for music journalism, writing gig reviews for a blog called Noise Noise Noise. He later began writing for Drowned in Sound and Louder than War, which he came to edit, and through which he met his girlfriend Liz Aubrey. He was also a contributor to the US music magazine Under the Radar and the website Gigwise.

He broke into sports journalism in 2013, landing shifts at the Telegraph and Guardian, where he swiftly applied his talents, quick-wittedness and knowledge to live-blogging, particularly on cricket and rugby union. And he didn’t need to be asked twice to join the NUJ. He signed up straight away.

As a writer, he understood instinctively that live-blogging had its own specific skills and tone, and how to relate to readers. He could commentate with great humour, knowledge and passion; opinionated without being pompous, sharp and funny without being too showy.

The Guardian sports writer Andy Bull wrote of Dan's breakthrough: "I first met him in June 2013, when he wrote to ask whether there was any work going at the Guardian. He had been emailing in contributions to our over-by-over cricket commentaries for a while already, and wanted to have a go writing them. A couple of months later, I logged on to the site and there he was, at work on his first match, an ODI between England and Australia at Edgbaston. Which, of course, was rained off. So, in the best spirit of over-by-over cricket, Dan spent the next few hours chatting to the few remaining readers about poetry, Bruce Springsteen and Ashley Giles' new hairdo."

His passing came six days before the concluding day of this year's Six Nations, on which he had provided exhaustive minute-by-minute coverage for the Guardian throughout the tournament. Dan had been due to cover the final day’s matches, and the blog was inundated with warm tributes, a testament to the rapport he had struck up with readers. One, Robin Hazlehurst, wrote: "For many of us the MBM is like a pub, where you drop in to watch the match and chat with your mates. It’s unbelievable to think that Dan’s stool at the bar will be empty for today’s matches. It won’t be the same without him. He always interacted with readers like a true gent and a genuine mate, even emailing back about things on occasion, and debating keenly in the commentary."

John Robb, who worked with him at Louder than War, described him as "a wonderful, passionate and fiercely intelligent person … It was an honour to talk and argue music with you in the time that I knew you from when you started writing for Louder Than War and then became my first music editor. These impassioned music conversations would continue when we met as well. Great debates. Great music passion."

I personally worked with him mainly through cricket: I shared Guardian over-by-over commentary duties with Dan through many Test matches and one-day internationals, and he was always fun to work alongside, friendly, and knowledgeable across a range of subjects. He loved the job and it showed in his work, and in any piece of commentary he could blend sport, music, TV and politics with lightness of touch and great skill. He will be missed enormously. 

Dan’s death was a result of sudden heart failure caused by undiagnosed Coronary Heart Disease and a small gastric bleed, all exacerbated by a lifetime of suffering from Type 1 Diabetes.

His family have set up a JustGiving page for the diabetes research charity JDRF in his memory. Donations can be made online.

Tags: , obituaries, obituary, sports, music, tribute, guardian news and media, telegraph