Thoughts are with the family and friends of the inspirational Wolverhampton resident and Wolves fan Steve Evans, whose funeral takes place at the Civic Hall today. Steve's widow Septina, daughters Lauren and Megan, Lauren's boyfriend Adam and Steve's best mate John Price were guests of the club on Saturday and went pitchside at half time to receive a special presentation from Steve Bull (see picture).
Here is the tribute to Steve which appeared in Saturday's programme.
We first got to know of Steve Evans’ journey via a broadcast on the Richard Bacon Show on BBC Five Live last year.
To those who haven’t caught a glimpse of the story, Steve was - by his own admission – just an ordinary man from Wolverhampton – the ‘Man from the Council’ - who had spent his working life with the local authority and progressed to the role of Chief Building Surveyor prior to retirement.
And yet, via the worst of situations - a diagnosis of terminal stomach cancer – he ultimately became an ordinary man destined to do extraordinary things.
Like all who do battle with such a terrible disease, Steve faced up to his diagnosis with bravery and courage, and also perhaps with more concern for those closest to him than that of his own mortality.
But, unlike many others, he faced that battle on a public stage, not entirely of his own volition, but following a text sent in to a late night radio show on Five Live.
With the assistance of a fabulously engaging and warm personality, and a humour honed via his ‘other’ work interests of magic and children’s entertaining, Steve’s regular appearances on Richard Bacon’s show and in other local and national media proved a constant source of inspiration to both his nearest and dearest and indeed thousands who had never – and would never – get to meet him.
And so it was, prior to his passing surrounded by his family in the early hours of Thursday, January 16th, that his Twitter account had amassed over 26,000 thousands followers and that since then a Just Giving site to raise money for Compton Hospice has surged quickly past £10,000. There can surely be no greater tribute than that.
But to turn the clock back, having become aware of Steve’s story we made contact to see if he would like to come to a game, to see whether there was anything Wolves could do in some small way to help him along his ‘journey’.
It quickly transpired that he was as you might say, a ‘Wolves man’, who attended many games and was, up until recent years, a Season Ticket Holder.
Favourite team? From the 1970s – as he quickly reeled off the names as if reading from a teamsheet.
Favourite player? John Richards. Whom he later got to know. “I felt I was talking to a God and had to keep reaching out to touch him to make sure he was real!”
Amid the suggestion of maybe a 15-minute interview we invited Steve to the Compton training ground. And 15 minutes turned into two-and-a-half hours!
First off there was a 20-minute chat with Head Coach Kenny Jackett, far better and more incisive an interview than we could ever have carried out.
Then there was a tour of the training ground interspersed with regular interludes of talking to the kitman, the masseur - anyone really who happened to be passing.
And after that a sit-down of maybe an hour or so to tell his story which flew by so effortlessly it seemed like seconds.
The common theme throughout was not about Steve being desperate to talk about himself or how leaving with terminal cancer affected him.
It was more about other people – what do you do? How does that work? How are your family? You get the picture.
During the sit-down interview he spoke of how he met his devoted wife Septina at the age of 16 and that, in relationship terms, was that. “Hadn’t had a girlfriend, met Septina, no more complicated than that.”
Of how he used to come to the football with youngest daughter Megan until she got a job working in the burger bars at Molineux, or how chuffed he had been to see Travis at last summer’s V Festival with his elder daughter Lauren.
He described how guilty he felt about how his diagnosis had affected his friends, and talked of best pal John who was “so close that he has his own biscuits at our house.”
But above all there was the humility and modesty whereby he didn’t really understand just how inspirational he actually was.
“I do it because people ask me – nothing more than that,” he said of the widespread attention to his story.
“Just remember I’m a magician, a performer, someone who craves the attention, and having a life limiting illness offers a very short cut to that.....”
And so it was that we were delighted to be able to offer Steve and Megan a route back to those happy father/daughter days watching Wolves when they were guests at the Brentford match back in November.
Steve bought his cards and so, pre-match, we sprung on him the task of doing Molineux’s first ever half time magic trick with Steve Bull in the Director’s Box.
Quite a difficult test in a sizeable stadium with only microphone but one that Steve passed. He always did.
Steve knew director John Gough well from their working lives and after the match he was invited into the Chairman’s Suite to keep Steve Morgan’s son – and everyone else for that matter – royally entertained with his mercurial talents.
He also returned, on one of his final outside visits, on Boxing Day as guests of club sponsors What House where he was able to join the aforementioned John, and two more close friends Martin and Phil. By all accounts they had a ball!
On his much-followed Twitter site Steve had previously been mistaken for namesake Rotherham boss Steve Evans.
Well the Millers boss was well aware of his Wolverhampton namesake and had penned a lovely message on a match programme from the game with Wolves six days before Boxing Day which we were able to pass on to Steve.
‘Inspiring’, finished the message, with the sign-off ‘Steve Evans the Second’.
It was also perhaps fitting that the last Wolves goalscorer before Steve’s passing had ‘Evans’ and the number ‘14’ on the back of his shirt.
2014. The end of the journey. But certainly not the end of the impact of a man inducted onto the Civic Hall’s Hall of Fame by comedian and pal Jimmy Carr and the Inner Magic Circle in the final months of his life.
For those of us who merely dipped into Steve’s journey, and no doubt from others who never even met him, thoughts are with his family and friends ahead of the Civic Hall’s first ever funeral – he was quite proud of that - taking place on Monday at 12.30pm.
His was a journey which has carried a substantial impact, a perspective which made people better people, and an attitude which illustrated the indefatigable power of the human spirit.
That message is best perhaps summed up succinctly by the words of the man himself, in an emotional and poignant final interview with Richard Bacon aired just days before his death.
“Love is all around.....and I am so blessed that I have had so much of it around me....”