Hugh McIlvanney’s life as a sports journalist resembled one of his perfectly crafted sentences: long, lyrical and rich with surprises. He was a scrupulous and perceptive witness to what he regarded with reverence as the “magnificent triviality” of sport, and his death, at the age of 84, will be the more keenly felt in a climate of concern about the dwindling integrity of the printed word. He leaves behind a fading image of an era that was more forgiving of…