Death Of Well Known Saints Fan Is A Sad Day For Southampton
Friday, 13th Nov 2015 14:27
It is with very deep regret that The Ugly Inside pays tribute to one of the stars of its very first front cover in 1988, sadly the man nicknamed Jim Steele by many, passed away today.
The name Mike O'Callaghan might not mean a lot to many Saints fans , most knew him as "Jim Steele" due to his likeness back in the 1970's to the Saints centre half of the same name.
To say Jim was passionate about Saints was an understatement he was a larger than life figure who was well known from the early 70's Milton Road End, where I first came across him, right through to his sad death.
A regular at the Warren’s public house back in the 1970’s he forged close friendships that have endured over four decades through supporting Saints and trip to Wigan Casino for another passion, Northern Soul music.
Jim saw the good years and the bad but he always saw them, never wavering in his support for the club whatever the situation.
He was also passionate about Celtic Football Club and was a founder members of the Southampton Branch of their supporters club in the 1980's.
But Jim's love of his football club went beyond just attending games and he never shied away from supporter’s issues, being an early campaigner for the Southampton Independent Supporters Association back in 1993 and continuing to be involved with them to their demise.
Never afraid to say his piece it is not disrespectful to say that Jim was not everyone’s cup of tea and could wind up people the wrong way sometimes when it came to Saints, as he did not suffer those he saw as less than dedicated to the club gladly. But mostly it was forgotten quickly and Jim had a cheeky smile and a way inherited from his Irish roots that could charm as my own Mum used to say about Jim , he had the map of Ireland on his face.
Everyone who knew Jim has a story to tell about him and he was always at home when in the centre of the craic with the stories flying thick and fast and the beer flowing.
From then on I knew him very well, his little phrases became legendary although sadly none are printable in a family newspaper and I went on many jaunts across the country with him over the next 37 years in the name of supporting Saints.
Perhaps one that can be told was back in the Kevin Keegan days of 1982, we decided to hitchhike to Manchester United leaving on the Friday night, by 1am we were back to his house without a lift and restarted the journey in the morning, we had got to Birmingham when Jim spotted a United fan from Bristol he had once met on holiday who luckily sorted us out a lift to Old Trafford, we finally arrived home at around midnight on the Monday via Burnley, Liverpool & London, having spent about the equivalent of £5 today on the travel for the whole trip, this was a typical adventure you would have with Jim, I’m not the only one who can recount similar tales.
When 2015 started Jim had every reason to be happy, a lovely partner Gina and he had seen his daughter married not long before, with Saints in the Champions league places, he would have been looking forward to seeing Saints have the success that they promised 30 odd years ago and after so many years of the difficult times, he would have been looking forward to a few trips abroad in support of Saints.
Indeed those who knew him well thought that he had finally found a contentment in his life that he had never had before.
Sadly it was not to be long lasting, diagnosed with cancer in April it was hoped that he would beat it, back in the summer at one stage it looked like he would not make the start of the football season, but Jim was always a fighter and he fought hard so he could have one last holiday with Gina and see Saints one more time.
But sadly this would only be a postponement of the inevitable and his condition deteriorated faster than we all hoped, after a short illness born with the dignity and bravery that those who knew him would have expected, he sadly passed away on the morning of Friday 13th November 2015.
Southampton Football Club and St Mary's Stadium will be a sadder place without Jim and many Saints supporters will raise a glass to his memory at the Stoke City game next weekend.
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