Dave Woodhall pays tribute to writer, broadcaster, campaigner and long-time friend Steve Beauchampe.
All of us at the Birmingham Press were stunned and saddened by the sudden death of Steve Beauchampe, at the age of 61.
I first met Steve when I joined the Football Supporters Association in 1988. By then he had been heavily involved with the FSA and the pioneering magazine Off the Ball for several years and was one of a small group of fans from all clubs who were helping take the first steps in transforming football from what was famously described as a “slum game for slum people” into the all-encompassing global phenomenon it is today.
Steve was also involved with the Birmingham City fanzine Tired & Weary and regularly appeared in the media talking about the club’s affairs, often a difficult task during what was a turbuent period at St Andrews. Whether in print or on air, he was a passionate advocate of supporters rights and challenged the perception prevalent at that time that anyone who attended a football match was an inarticulate, potential thug ripe for exploitation and abuse.
During the World Cup in 1990 Steve was the driving force behind the FSA’s first fans embassy. This move, controversial at the time, was a forerunner for the assistance the organisation has since provided to supporters of the national side at games and major tournaments abroad, and which has played a large part in transforming the image of England supporters.
After leaving the FSA following Euro 96 Steve concentrated on writing, first in football and his other sporting love, cricket (he followed Warwickshire just as keenly as he did the Blues). He then took a great interest in the architecture of sporting facilities, particularly in the West Midlands.
In 2006 Steve and stadia expert Simon Inglis co-wrote the book Played in Birmingham, which chronicled sports venues past and present in the city. He followed this with a series of enlightening talks, and was always keen to add to his knowledge when meeting anyone who could provide him with additional information on the subject.
Steve was an active member of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, wrote a centenary history of the Grade II* building, Pools of Memory – A History of Moseley Road Baths, and was heavily involved in the ongoing campaign to ensure the future of the facility.
He also wrote for many other publications, including the Birmingham Press and its predecessor The Stirrer. His work was varied, touching on such diverse subjects as architecture, music and the Commonwealth Games (He was one of the first people to say that Birmingham should bid to host the event, once persuading me to go miles out of my way to show me where he believed the stadium should be built). Whatever the subject, Steve wrote clearly and with a passionate belief in the rightousness of his argument. He was equally reluctant to compromise in any form of discussion; whether talking to a Cabinet Minister on national television or to a Blues fan on the Tilton, Steve was invariably courteous, but absolutely resolute in his opinions.
We extend our condolences to his family and friends.
Pic – Played in Britain.