Soapbox: Dave Lish RIP – an affectionate farewell to a good man


Just before Saturday’s rousing win over Arsenal, I spotted Pete Sixsmith in his usual 20-minutes-before-kickoff spot in the East Stand concourse, chatting animatedly to another Sunderland fan. That other fan was about to see the last game of his life. Only in his early 50s, he died next day. Pete pays tribute to Dave Lish …

We all agree, I think, that Saturday was as good a game as we have seen at the Stadium for a long time. At half time, on my return from the toilet, I spoke with Dave Lish and we both agreed that we had a good chance of winning this one. As we returned to our seats, we agreed to meet at Sunderland RCA for their game with Shildon on Wednesday night.

Alas, this is not to be, as Dave suddenly and tragically passed away on Sunday. I had known him for a number of years, bumping into him on the non league circuit. As the relationship changed from acquaintance to friend, I always looked for his Corsa (R99 KER), knowing that his presence would always mean an entertaining and enjoyable evening even if the football was dire.

We had shared interests in Sunderland AFC, non-league football and music. Dave had an extensive collection of CD’s and an incredible memory for the tracks contained on them. A mention of, say, 10,000 Maniacs would bring a learned conversation on which album I liked. My response would be “the one with the bows and arrows on the front” and I would get a little smile as he reminded me of the name, the running order and the name of the woman who did Nathalie Merchant’s hair. He used to delight in teasing Willie Fyfie with the names of bands that he and Julia, his adored partner, had seen and which Willie resolutely refused to believe.

Dave was a very kind and generous man. He would collect people and take them to matches, going out of his way to collect them. He supplied me with copies of CD’s, beautifully produced with full colour copies of the artwork. He was offended when I offered to pay, but we reached an agreement which involved a furtive exchange of CDs in return for a selection of Godfrey Card’s sausages.

He had been a regular contributor to the much admired Wise Men Say in the 80’s and always had an interesting angle on SAFC and those connected with it. It would be fair to say that all things black and white were not to his taste, but he had friends who were as firm Newcastle fans as he was a Sunderland fan.

His love for Sunderland was second only to his love for Julia. I know he was immensely proud of Julia’s daughter, Eleanor, when she achieved an excellent set of A level results. He rang at 9am to tell me and was as excited as the average 18 year old is on A Level results day.

I would imagine that as he walked back to his car after the Arsenal game, there would be a huge smile across his face as he thought of Cana, Da Silva and the rest. When I think of Dave in the future, there will be a smile on my face as I remember the enjoyable times I spent with him. Many others will be doing the same.

12 thoughts on “Soapbox: Dave Lish RIP – an affectionate farewell to a good man”

  1. As an exiled Black Cat living down in Berkshire I was very saddened to hear the news of Lishy’s passing. I got to know him over 20 years ago whilst playing for Whitburn CC 1st XI in the Durham Senior League. He was not only a keen supporter of local footy but also liked his cricket. Early and late season, you could always rely on him to pop in to the Village ground after the Lads had been playing at Roker and I was usually jealous that he’d been able to go to the match whilst I’d been getting another duck and fielding for 52 overs. He was always keen to impart his version of the match to us and many of us were always eager to hear it. He followed Whitburn CC home and away throughout the Summer, much like SAFC in the Winter, and I know he also followed many other cricket clubs in the region. He will be sadly missed by all those who came to know him through his love of local cricket as well as football. God bless Lishy, rest in peace big fella.

  2. I found out on the day of the Wigan game that Dave had died. I was totally stunned, I am still finding it hard to take in. I had many a chat with Dave about everything from Sunderland and Durham City to Elton John and George Strait. His knowledge was encyclopedic and he was also interesting with it.
    He often mentioned his mates like Jeff Brown and Rob Mason. I am sure they will miss him as much as all at Chester-le-Street market where he bought so many of his records and CDs.

    RIP Dave.

  3. I just cannot believe Dave has gone. It is a while since I saw him, and was looking forward to seeing him at our football reunion in a couple of weeks. Dave was a regular at our games, and even managed a a few minutes playing for us when we were short !

    Dave was a real character and whenever I think of him, Viz springs to mind as he used to recite the latest edition verbatim! He was a major contributor to the excellent Wise Men Say, and was heavily involved in the SAFC group in the mid 90’s. His love of SAFC was sadly affected by the actions of a certain person ‘high up’ in the club and that person was never forgiven.

    His music collection is unbelievable, and when he copied cd’s for you, he did it with great style.

    Dave, you will be very sadly missed and mine and Judith’s thoughts are with those who loved you dearly and who now have a huge void in their lives. God bless marra.

  4. Lishy was a great lad and that’s a fitting tribute, Pete. He will be missed by all who knew him but his character was such that he will never be forgotten. SAFC have lost a genuine, devoted supporter who was well liked and respected by so many people. I can remember many a dire game at Roker when he was far more entertaining than the fayre on the pitch! RIP Lishy.

  5. Great tribute Peter. Lishy was my oldest mate, Godfather to my eldest son, my companion at hundreds of games from about 1972 onwards and the provider of about a third of my music collection. For those that know him the funeral is at noon this Saturday at Sunderland Crematorium.

    Lishy’s favourite player was Johnny Crossan. Dave was never short of an opinion, never slow to do anything for you and had a story for every occasion.

    For everyone who knew him there will now be a gaping hole at both Sunderland and non league matches. As Peter says if you were at a match with Dave it would be enjoyable and entertaining regardless of the football you were watching.

  6. fitting tribute to a hell of a lad, was with Dave at Hebburn v Ryhope CA last week and he was as entertaining as ever with his off beat footy chat, will be sadly missed and there will be a canny turn out for him at Sunderland Crem on Saturday

    PS Loggo for Shildon !

  7. I had not seen “Lishy” for several years but my thoughts are with those close to him. Indeed he was a good lad who loved his Sunderland and his music. RIP Dave.

    Chris L

  8. Gone with a smile on his face and a befitting swan song from the lads.

    It’s Julia and Eleanor I feel for, having been there myself time is the healer though that is no consolation at the present.

    Remember the love and the good times, if you are never forgotten you are immortal.


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