By Kevin Redsull
When Steve Lake sadly passed away in May this club lost one of its most loyal and passionate supporters. Confirmation of that fact, if any was needed, came via the many messages of sympathy that we received from club officials and individual supporters from all around the county, and at Tuesday night’s home match against Hollands & Blair we will be paying tribute to someone whose presence is going to be very sorely missed at the Charles Ground this season.
It’s only fitting that the person leading those tributes is Danny Philpott, Steve’s long-time companion behind the goal, and here are some of his personal thoughts and memories: “Steve lived and breathed football whether it was watching his beloved Deal Town or talking about Liverpool. I first met Steve back in the early 1990s and admired his obvious passion for the Hoops. Then, in the latter stages of the 90s, a group of about a dozen of us became the main providers of vocal support at Deal’s games as the club moved into the Roy Smith and Tommy Sampson era when we enjoyed two fantastic seasons, culminating in the FA Vase triumph at Wembley in May 2000.What a day that was, capped by Roly Graham’s late winner, and even though the club has not enjoyed much success since then Steve and myself continued to travel far and wide in support of the Hoops. Steve always looked forward in particular to our away games at Whitstable, Tunbridge Wells and of course Sheppey United where he moved to live with his wife Michelle 20 years ago. I will always remember our match at Sheppey last season, when we stood in amongst 150-plus home supporters and traded humorous, good-natured banter with them. There was never anything nasty where Steve was concerned, and I know he will be looking down on this exciting young Hoops’ team as a new season begins. Come on Del, Kingy and all the boys – let’s win a trophy this year for Steve!”
So there are some of Danny Philpott’s fondest memories of Steve but, as I said at the start of this piece, the messages that the club received after his death came from right across the Kent non-league football family and here is just a brief selection:
Keith Tucker (Sheppey Utd supporter): –“We had great banter when Deal played at Sheppey last season and Steve stood with the home fans at the Botany End. Steve hung up his flag and sang his heart out in support of his beloved Deal Town.”
Tim Pickering (Hoops supporter): Steve was “Mr Deal Town” and I have lots of special memories including the club’s fantastic run to the FA Vase final in2000 when we travelled to all of the matches up and down the country.”
Connor Coyne (Hoops striker): “Steve, match days won’t be the same without you chanting behind the goal.”
Kieran Payne (Sittingbourne Town supporter) On behalf of Sittingbourne, we are very sorry to hear the news about Steve.”
Phil Chalk (Hoops supporter): Steve was always there, flying the flag (literally) for the club, chanting “Deal, Deal” and passing the time of day with the opposing club’s goalkeeper and defence with comments which always seemed to bring a smile to everyone’s faces. One great example came in a game at Hextable when, unimpressed by their keeper’s rather grubby shirt, Steve and Danny Philpott continually taunted the opposition with “You can’t afford the Persil! “ – Priceless!”.
Steve King (Hoops’ head coach) “Steve was a massive supporter of everything we had done at the club over the past two years and would always be there supporting the boys home or away”
Alex Perseval (Ashford Utd supporter) On behalf of Ashford United we are very sorry to hear about Steve, RIP.”
And finally, a message that Steve’s wife Michelle posted on the club’s Facebook page: “ We are all absolutely devastated but thank you for all the lovely comments. Steve always looked forward to Deal’s next match and the Hoops meant the world to him.”
Steve, from everyone at the Charles Ground, thank you for everything that you contributed to this football club over many years and RIP.