Tributes pour in for non-league football star Steve Essex
Tributes have poured in for a non-league football stalwart who passed away last night at the age of 58 from bile duct and pancreatic cancer.
Steve Essex, who was known as ‘Esso’, played at centre-back for Hednesford Town, Stafford Rangers, Rushall Olympic and Wolverhampton United.
He was part of the famous Hednesford side that reached the fourth round of the FA Cup in the 1996/97 season.
A tribute issued by the club read: “All at Hednesford Town Football Club are saddened to hear of the passing of former centre-half Steve Essex at the age of just 58.
“Steve, or as he was better known among the Pitman faithful ‘Esso’, arrived at the Cross Keys in the early 1990s and would be influential in the clubs rise into the Football Conference – scoring one of the goals in the 3-0 title clinching victory against Leek Town in April 1995.
“Perhaps some of his finest moments came during our FA Cup run to the fourth round in the 1996/97 season.
“After a man of the match display against Blackpool in the second round he would famously go on to mark Italian international Fabrizio Ravenelli out of the game against Premier League Middlesbrough.
“Our thoughts are with Steve’s family and friends at this sad time.”
Mr Essex also reached the final of the FA Trophy with Burton Albion in 1987, and played at Wembley for the Brewers.
He used the last year of his life to campaign for blood donors, having benefited from transfusions himself.
Nick Allen, vice-chairman of Rushall Olympic, said: “We are heartbroken. Esso will always remain a colossus of a man.
“Love to all your loving family and friends. Our hearts go out to you all. We are proud to call you our friend.”
Stafford Rangers issued a statement saying: “We are devastated to hear that our former player and friend, Steve ‘Esso’ Essex passed away peacefully and pain free at 7.15pm last night with his lovely family by his side.
“Proud to have helped you get blood donation awareness out to the world mate. Love to all.”