By Michael Casey
AS A reporter for a local paper, your world is made up of a mosaic of people. In a borough of 160,000, there are many many people you never meet and then there are some who become, somewhere along the way, become part of that rich tapestry.
Tilbury resident, Steve Lambert died last week in Spain after a short illness. Steve was 55 years of age. Most people will know him as Steve the Taxi, as he was, like his son and his grandson, a London cabbie. He was the quintessential large than life character but also wise, knowing, sensitive, sensible, loyal and humane.
I first came to know him through Grays Athletic. He was one of the happy band that would enjoy some of the away venues that Grays Ath visited when they were in the Conference. We saw him and chatted to him in the far flung corners of the country from Torquay, Barrow, Carlisle, even Farsley!
When Grays Ath played at Bridge Road, he used to sit just to the right of the press box. Steve always had a large stash of sweets, which he would distribute to the gentlemen of the press. This reporter would like to thank him for the sherbet lemons whilst Mike Jones, the announcer was a big fans of the sour plums. Grays Ath manager Justin Edinburgh was also a big fan of the Big Stevie sweets!
Steve was a deep thinking man whose conversations with me started with football but soon got onto political and social topics. You could talk to Steve about the general elections and you could talk to him about regeneration in Thurrock. He always seemed to be a man in the know or rather exposed this feckless journalist as obviously a man not in the know.
He came across to me as a man who loved the company of his beloved wife Chris as well as his children and his grandchildren. He was proud of them and cared for them.
He was also a man who looked like he enjoyed his own company and could often be spotted walking the dog out on the wilds of West Tilbury. Infact it was from there he often phoned this journalist.
Steve was a London taxi driver and you just know that he was one of those cabbies that it would have been a delight to have drive you round London. Infact, he once gave a lift to a Japanese sports journalist called Hiroaki Tsujikami who was working for Kyodo News. Steve ended up persuading him to come along to a Grays Athletic game!
So, we won’t be getting those texts regarding a crash on the A13, stray horses near Tilbury Fort etc. Instead, we will have warm memories and a deep respect for a man of honour and dignity.
There are very few people who have the knowledge and the wisdom. Steve the Taxi had both.
I will also miss Steve’s sweetie bag a really nice bloke who will be missed by his family and friends at Grays Ath,