Me (left) with Jacqui and Steve
I write with an incredibly heavy heart.
I’ve often spoken of my “Blue friend” here in Florida on these pages. I’ve rarely mentioned him by name until now.
Steve Ashcroft passed away Friday night, aged 52. My best friend in Florida, and a true, true Blue.
Steve lived in Formby. As a kid he played for the Everton Youth Academy, and won the U18 FA Youth Cup. Something he spoke of with great, great fondness. He went on to play for Hofstra University in New York, coming to America aged 18 for college.
I met Steve when I was 40 years old. His wife, Jacqui, was with him at our local “soccer” fields watching their son, Harrison, play against my son’s team. Both our boys were the same age. During the game Jacqui, in her ridiculously thick Scouse accent, yelled out something about Wayne Rooney to Harrison. Something akin to, “well done you look like Rooney” or some such thing. I looked down the line at her and yelled, “Rooney’s a traitor, and you must be a Man U fan.” I had never met Steve or Jacqui. That was literally my first interaction with them. They both looked back down the line at me, rather shocked, and were like, “who the fuck is this guy?!” We spoke after the game about Everton, and Steve, despite my rather blunt and rude “call back” to his wife, was as friendly as possible. He didn’t know a soul in the area who supported Everton, and he suggested we should get together to watch a game sometime.
And a friendship unlike any other started right then and there. Two men that were polar opposites. One man from Liverpool, Protestant, Agnostic. Myself from America, devout Catholic, believer in the Big Man upstairs. But two men that gelled, and most importantly, respected one another immensely.
About a month later I decided to start a 7 aside team in the old man division (over 40). I had never touched a soccer ball until I was 40 years old. I grew up playing hockey, and I was a terrible soccer player. But I loved the game and decided I simply had to play, no matter how shite I’d be. Knowing this, I knew I needed talent, and had heard from someone that Steve actually played for the Youth Academy. He was humble, so had never mentioned the fact he did, and actually won the FA Youth Cup(!). I called up Steve and asked him to play. At first he was resistant as he hadn’t had good experiences with a few of the adult teams. Too many boneheads, too many guys thinking injuring someone else was cute at aged fucking 40, etc. But Steve agreed finally to play. We recruited about 10 other guys of questionable merit, like ourselves, and our team was born.
Our team name? Grand Ol’ Team. We wore Royal blue, of course, and I fashioned a crest from the actual official crest at the time, replete with Prince Rupert’s Tower and all.
Wednesday nights were game nights. And they are some of my best memories in my life. Very, very late nights after the game at the pubs. Ash and I would almost always be the last two to leave. We’d sit and talk Everton, talk about the kids, vent about this or that, bounce life issues off one another. It was like having a brother.
After about 8 years, too many of the fellas got too old to play. Injuries, work schedules, etc. got in the way and Grand Ol Team said goodbye to the Old Fart division. Steve went on to get his referee license, and I did too. He and I would team on the top games - he was in the middle and I ran the line usually.
Steve always looked out for my five sons around the fields. If I was away at a tournament with one, I knew the boys at our home fields had a Dad there - Ash would look out for them and always did.
My favorite, undying memory of Steve, was when we were watching Everton in one of the area pubs together, and Aiden McGeady crossed a ball to Steven Naismith who headed home. Steve immediately ordered up the Proddy-Catholic celebratory shots for us - Bushmills for him, Jamesons for me. He used to give me shit all the time for drinking, “that Catholic piss” or, “that swill”. I used to tell him I’d never drink the Proddy Shite. Now some people may take offense to that, and they have before on these pages. But you have to understand, that was the beauty of our friendship. We both weren’t serious! We were poking fun at the absolute stupidity of the mindset that creates braindead divisions in society based upon superficial bullshit (like one’s religious preferences). Neither of us gave two fiddler’s farts about what religion, color, belief system, whatever, people had. In Steve’s world you were either good shit, or bad shit. The rest of it was a superficial label. And I always concurred with Steve on that point, and we were on the same page and continually poked fun.
Yesterday I bought a bottle of Bushmills. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the Jamesons. The Bushmills reminds me, fondly, of my friend.
I can not emphasize how much Steve loved the Club. He loved Everton immensely. He always wanted to take me over and be there for my first trip to Goodison and the City of Liverpool. With five sons, there was never a good time. I’m an idiot, I should have found the time.
Steve’s son Matthew contacted the Club yesterday. They were thinking they’d like to possibly scatter some of his ashes at Finch Farm or maybe Goodison itself. They’re all just trying to keep it together, and do the right thing.
We lost a true Blue Friday. A man who took this silly American under his wing and taught him what it meant to be an Evertonian.
I lost my friend. And the world lost a good man.
God took my friend Friday night, because God knew Steve couldn’t abide seeing the shite win the Champions League.
Reader Comments (53)
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1 Posted 03/06/2019 at 06:56:09
Beautiful. I shed tears. I'm so sorry for you and yours loss and of course Steve's and all of his.
What a wonderful friendship forged in blue. 52 FFS. At least Steve did not see the spawny shite win it.
Your honesty and integrity comes over in all your posts Jamie. I love your occasional slip-ups while always loving your devotedness and 'education' about all things Scouse. When you go there I will make sure to be there.
Please give ToffeeWeb blue to Steve's family at the funeral and also to the Crowley Everton dynasty and that Burnley supporter too.
Thanks for this truly moving post and take care mate
2 Posted 03/06/2019 at 07:32:12
God bless you both Jamie, that was a lovely story, I know you wish you didnt have to tell us, but alls weve got is memories, and at least youve got some special ones to tell us about your best mate, mate!
3 Posted 03/06/2019 at 08:08:57
4 Posted 03/06/2019 at 08:14:47
5 Posted 03/06/2019 at 09:10:32
6 Posted 03/06/2019 at 09:23:24
That is one of the great things about ToffeeWeb, the way it brings brilliant stories like yours to the table.
Sincere condolences to yourself and all Steves family.
7 Posted 03/06/2019 at 09:38:17
It's strange how people meet each other and turn out to be lifelong friends, and your own experience relayed that to us in the story above.
8 Posted 03/06/2019 at 11:02:36
9 Posted 03/06/2019 at 12:56:49
10 Posted 03/06/2019 at 13:04:19
Steve is my brother and we knew he touched lives wherever he went.
Comments like these mean so much to our family.Very much appreciated.
11 Posted 03/06/2019 at 14:13:52
12 Posted 03/06/2019 at 14:57:48
13 Posted 03/06/2019 at 15:47:02
14 Posted 03/06/2019 at 16:49:14
15 Posted 03/06/2019 at 17:06:12
Your tribute is elegant and eloquent. We are fortunate in this life if we have one friendship like that of you and Steve. It is irreplaceable.
I hope you will take to heart the terrible reminder you've just been given that we none of us know when the final whistle will blow. In the name of your shared love for Everton, take Steve's memory with you to Goodison. Make it happen.
16 Posted 03/06/2019 at 19:23:16
Sincere condolences Jamie and to the Ashcroft family.
Youll take the memories and his spirit which will be with you for ever.
RIP Steve Ashcroft.
17 Posted 03/06/2019 at 19:59:08
A timely wake up call for those of us who have kinda lost track of what is really important these past few days
Got no Irish in the house, but I raise a glass of wine to your buddy Steve.
18 Posted 03/06/2019 at 21:15:35
19 Posted 03/06/2019 at 21:46:56
Condolences to all involved! Its always sad to lose a fellow Evertonian!
20 Posted 03/06/2019 at 22:19:54
21 Posted 03/06/2019 at 22:47:34
But one last thing.. you now have a debt to a friend that has to be repaid, to raise a glass in honour of a mate, as you take your seat on the halfway line at Goodison Park.. we await you, and so will Steve.. RIP and pass on our condolences to all his family, they are ours now.
22 Posted 04/06/2019 at 04:32:42
At such a dark time, it was a wonderful thing to connect with you today via Facebook. I loved your brother immensely, and I am very pleased to hear my words are helpful at such a terribly difficult time for your family.
Thank you all who have commented. It's very nice to read such kind words.
Paul Ferry - my wife loved the Burnley shout out. ;0) You're a good man, Ferry, and I want our paths to cross.
Mike Gaynes - know I'd back you through hell in a gasoline suit, my American friend.
Christine Foster - Evertonians the world over will smile and raise a glass. That made me tear up it meant so much Christine. Be assured my debt to my friend will come sooner, rather than later. My wife and I spoke of a Christmas time trip to Liverpool this evening. It will now happen much, much sooner rather than later. I will honor Steve at Goodison before 2019 closes.
Tony, Si, Brent, Petey Mills, Dave "The Godfather" Abrahams, Derek "Punny" Knox, Dennis, Frank, Brian, Dave E., David P., Dave G., Paul, Darren "AR15" Hind, Andy "the Irishman who must be met" Crooks, Stephen, and Steve "Tactical Genius" Ferns -
You're all top people. I thank you. The catharsis for me reading this late at night here in the States is beyond helpful. I can only hope the kind words mean just as much to Steve's family. They're such good people.
Every single time I thought of a trip to Goodison, it was with Steve. Every time. It was a given. I truly hope when the time comes, and again it will be much sooner than later as events like this smack you in the face and make you realize what's really important in this short life, we can all meet in person.
It'll be my honor.
RIP Stevie Mate. When I make the trip, I know you'll be there with me, my friend.
23 Posted 04/06/2019 at 08:20:33
Hope you make it to our colourful city one day to meet up with all your blue friends...
24 Posted 04/06/2019 at 08:38:25
I've lit a candle and poured a measure for the fallen. It's a long way from America but good wishes and prayers travel as far as they're needed. If you need them, they'll find you, of that I'm sure.
You're a good guy and a gentleman Jamie, I've always appreciated your contributions around here. Stay strong fella.
25 Posted 04/06/2019 at 08:53:52
You can have my seat anytime really, I will even give up the Burnley game for you and your wife! But coming from Florida, Christmas makes sense, straight out of the frying pan, and into the fridge!
26 Posted 04/06/2019 at 08:58:33
27 Posted 04/06/2019 at 09:06:34
A fitting tribute to your fellow Blue.
Tony Abrahams, class mate. Class
28 Posted 04/06/2019 at 09:55:30
Hope to meet you when you get over to Goodison.
29 Posted 04/06/2019 at 09:56:25
30 Posted 04/06/2019 at 13:15:57
31 Posted 04/06/2019 at 16:08:59
32 Posted 04/06/2019 at 17:17:53
33 Posted 04/06/2019 at 20:52:12
I guess this moving story is a reminder to us all to experience all life offers while we can. You just dont know how long you or anyone else has on this planet.
Well done Jamie
34 Posted 04/06/2019 at 22:07:37
Whenever you write on here, you write with passion. Your memorial was massively moving. In this cruel world, losing people and facing losing people, is incredibly hard. All we can do is keep those people alive in our heads and our hearts, then they are never, truly, gone.
Thank you for this story of friendship, love and unity. I hope the reaction on here gives you some comfort and know that you have done a great thing for Steve and his family.
35 Posted 04/06/2019 at 22:22:35
Plan your journey, the rest will be taken care of.
36 Posted 04/06/2019 at 22:44:46
37 Posted 05/06/2019 at 04:17:30
I have to say it has been a very hard few days trying to actually grasp what has happened and being in New Zealand I do feel somewhat detached from the 'real' world anyway. To be honest simple words can't possibly bring comfort to all the members of his family but I too offer my deepest condolences, Ashy will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
38 Posted 05/06/2019 at 06:28:53
Condolences to you, Johnathan and all Steve's family.
Being a scouse Blue in Florida for the last15 years I wish I would have hooked up with you guys at some point. You sounded like you had great fun together and I'm sure Steve would have relished that and it leaves you with memories to savour.
Thank you for sharing that with us, you sum up all the best qualities of being a Blue.
39 Posted 05/06/2019 at 21:11:56
40 Posted 05/06/2019 at 21:53:05
So sorry to hear of your good mate passing. When you do finally plan to get over here, contact Mike Gaynes for our details, and the lads will royally (blue) look after you. I hope you and the 5 boys are in rude health.
I'm burying an uncle tomorrow, but he had 30+ years on Steve, and had a good innings. Although a fanatical Rugby Union follower, and was President of his local club, he liked all sports, and actually came to Goodison with me a few years ago. He couldn't believe how cheap the food was in the chippy opposite the Walton taxi club, and how friendly us Blues were.
Take care blues everywhere, as the song goes "Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think".
Hope to see you soon Jamie.
41 Posted 06/06/2019 at 02:31:53
A few, quick shouts -
Tony Abrahams - too kind. Class definitely. I appreciate your offer immensely.
Jonathon - I'll be seeing you soon.
Peter Armstrong - So cool to hear from a guy who grew up with Ash. It's amazing, the man's reach. Steve touched so many people who are literally all over the world. My best wishes to you. We both truly were very fortunate people to have been able to call Steve friend.
The Patron Saint of people who jump out of airplanes - I will hold you to your promise.
Everyone else - I listed all the kind and fine people who had the courtesy and decency to take some time to post, in my previous post. Suffice to say, I feel a bit of an ass not doing so again. However, be assured, I read them all multiple times and I so appreciate the kind words.
Steve's service is this Friday at 5:30 pm in St. Augustine, FL. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
42 Posted 06/06/2019 at 03:52:36
Ian, I have missed your posts. Hope all is well with you.
And Jamie, with ya, mate.
43 Posted 06/06/2019 at 03:56:16
The quality of your writing has always provoked thought, sometimes I agree, sometimes I don't but I always appreciate your contribution.
This one however, has deeply moved me. I am glad you are the 'Blue' you now are thanks to your friendship with Steve, but equally very sad at your loss of your friend.
Your words are often eloquent, mine are merely simple. I offer condolences to you and to Steve's family. I hope the depth of your friendship with him will help you through the days ahead.
44 Posted 06/06/2019 at 15:55:01
45 Posted 06/06/2019 at 19:17:27
Been to the funeral today, and had to wear a red tie as my uncles' Rugby Club (Moresby) played in that colour. I actually borrowed a club tie off a workmate, so didn't have to buy something never to be worn again.
Our family went early to the crematorium, and caught the back end of the service before my uncles. "you'll never walk alone" belted out as we stood outside waiting for the previous set of mourners to leave. There is no escape!!
Enjoy the precious memories of your mate Jamie, and ensure he lives on in your heart.
46 Posted 08/06/2019 at 10:12:56
PS. It's good to put a face to your name.
47 Posted 09/06/2019 at 00:58:23
48 Posted 09/06/2019 at 02:07:57
A great read for all the wrong reasons, sorry for everyone's loss, family and friends.
Sounds like a great bloke and what a friendship too!
Your such a great contributer Jamie, always look forward to what you write. (Though I'll never forgive you for that 2 egg omelette you made)!
Erm, without offence to anyone else, when I hear of a fellow blue passing on (to that great 80s football dvd continuous replay with added bonus content of what could of been, if the ban never happened) well, that's how I imagine it anyway, in the sky, I'm moved, really, so sad, but reading this I'm moved a lot more!
Touching, funny and so sad (obviously) at the same time.
Get in touch with the boys, they'll look after yer, also let us know when your over, would love to meet up and witness your pilgrimage to the 'Old Lady', I also now reside in the big smoke (london, I guess that's where you'll fly into, and if you have time, hopefully meet up).
Once again, Jamie, JP, and all who knew Steve, sorry for your loss, really am.
49 Posted 09/06/2019 at 16:25:25
50 Posted 11/06/2019 at 02:31:05
51 Posted 11/06/2019 at 10:17:58
Friendships like that don't come along every day. For me, it's a reminder, if you're lucky enough to have a mate like this, for fucks sake tell them once in a while, you don't know when they'll be gone.
52 Posted 12/06/2019 at 09:56:07
53 Posted 16/06/2019 at 05:41:03
Its just really sweet, honest and heartfelt. Nice one and your late mate couldnt be prouder of those ‘werds in a sort of ToffeeWeb eulogizing ‘epitaphy thingy!
All the Best,
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