Mark Eltringham and Salut! Sunderland fell out a little last season in the testy aftermath of the game at the Britannia when opinions on the way Stoke played differed, shall we say, according to who you supported. All very petty in retrospect, a retrospect sharpened by the untimely death of another Stoke fan Stephen Foster (pictured). This was Mark’s moving tribute at the City fan site, Oatcake, and – for reasons past mention of Stephen here, yesterday included, would make clear – I feel it right to reproduce it now that be has brought it to my attention …
There’s only one way to learn about grief and that’s the hard way. You can read and hear about its phases and effects but you don’t really know a damn thing about it until you’ve experienced it personally.
And when you’ve experienced it a few times what you also learn is that, like snowflakes, grief is never the same twice. It chooses its own way and does things in its own time.
I’ve lost a number of people in my life but none of those losses affected me in the same way as the death of Stephen Foster, who died in Norwich in June. He was only 48. For a start throughout the whole process of mourning him I could never get used to people referring to him as Steve. I’ve only ever seen him as Winger just like he only ever referred to me as Grey Man, our epithets from the Oatcake messageboard, bringing webtards together since 1995.