Pete Sixsmith pays a moving tribute to a pal and fellow Sunderland fan who has met a cruel end. There is an update on the police investigation in the footnote …
Stephen Wilson was a very good friend of mine. He was a Sunderland supporter par excellence, a well known and highly thought of Sunday footballer, a proud member of the Wilson/Barker clan – and now he is lying in a hospital morgue after a senseless death outside a pub in Bishop Auckland.
Stephen was known to many as Squinny, due to his chronically poor eyesight. This did not prevent him from being a stalwart full back and midfield dynamo for Shildon Sunderland Supporters for the best part of 20 years.
His barnstorming runs and fierce tackles earned him the respected nickname of Squindini in honour of his admiration for Brazilian football. His heading ability (or lack of it) were equally legendary, and when a Sunderland defender misplaced a defensive header, there were those in the crowd who likened it to a Squinny effort – eyes closed, head in general direction of the ball which would then fly off at all angles.
He followed The Lads with devotion from his early teens, under the watchful eye of Dougie Bones and Ian Douglass who introduced him to such delights as camping at Wem, never, ever ordering Double Diamond in a real ale pub and how to cook a fish finger, bacon, egg and baked bean sandwich. He was 16 at the time.
Over the years, he kept us entertained with his antics. He was once nearly arrested by the then Home Secretary David Waddington’s armed guard as we flew back to Guernsey after a the defeat to Swindon at Wembley.
He infiltrated the bar area at The Caernarfon Castle in Liverpool, rolled out of the back of a mini bus while camping in the Lakes and was responsible for throwing the flashing lights that guarded a huge hole in the road at Wem, down the aforementioned chasm.
He was a man who never settled into a particular job, but could turn his hand to most things. On his first passport, he described himself as an archaeologist because he was on a Job Scheme at Binchester Fort at the time. Over the years, he worked on the railways with his brother Nigel ( of whom he was immensely proud), had a factory job at Flymo (where he rushed out with a pocketful of Stanley Knives used for cutting the cardboard and forgot all about them until he was frisked by the steward at Mansfield later that night. He got in!) and covered Ian Douglass’s back more times than The Sundance Kid covered Butch Cassidy’s when they worked together at Darlington Heat Treatment.
And now he is gone, victim of what appears to be a senseless act of violence outside the Beehive pub in Bishop Auckland. The last time I saw him was in a bar in Amsterdam where he gave me a hug and said: “See you around.” Sadly he won’t. He will be greatly missed.
* One man – the son of the licensee of the pub has appeared in court accused of murder, The Northern Echo reports