TRIBUTES were paid to children’s author and university professor Jim Riordan as his funeral was held at Portchester Crematorium yesterday.
Celebrant Deborah McGregor told mourners how Jim had achieved success in his life, but had never forgotten his humble roots in Portsmouth – referring to himself as a ‘working class oik’.
‘It always felt like home to him’ she said.
Jim, who died on February 10 at the age of 75, was born in the city in 1936.
Showing a flair for languages while at Portsmouth Southern Grammar School, he ended up being sent to the Joint Services School for Linguists in Cornwall to learn Russian.
After demob in 1957, he went to live in Russia and became the world’s leading academic expert on Soviet sport, acting as attaché to the British team at the Moscow Olympics in 1980.
He also made two appearances, under an assumed name, for Spartak Moscow in 1963 – becoming the only foreigner to play in the Soviet football league.
Football was very important to Jim. He saw his first match in 1944 as a wide-eyed eight-year-old when Portsmouth beat Crystal Palace 9-1 at Fratton Park.
Ms McGregor said: ‘Pompey were to remain one of the biggest passions in his life.’
On his return to Britain, Jim worked as a university lecturer in Russian studies and wrote many children’s books. One, Sweet Clarinet, won a national award.
He was also a popular columnist in The News.