By Anton Rippon
A former sportswriter with The Sun who conducted a campaign to have his famous footballer grandfather commemorated in a city centre has died.
Steve Richards, who was 84, suffered a heart attack and died in hospital near his Surrey home on Saturday morning.
In 1996, Richards was present at the unveiling in Derby of a memorial to his grandfather, Steve Bloomer, who between 1892 and 1914 scored 332 goals in 525 appearances for Derby County, as well as 62 goals in 130 games for Middlesbrough. Bloomer also scored 28 goals in 23 games for England, a record that stood until Nat Lofthouse broke it in the 1950s.
Richards, who was born in Derby, started his career with Raymond’s News Agency there before moving on to the sports department of the Derby Evening Telegraph. He left there to become chief footballer writer for the Daily Herald and its successor, The Sun.
Always a Rams fan – he still held two Pride Park season tickets even though in recent times he was unable to travel to see the team – Richards fought long and hard to have a memorial erected to Bloomer. When he finally achieved that – albeit in the less than auspicious surroundings of the Lock-Up Yard opposite Derby’s fish market, he brought with him to the unveiling former England forwards Tom Finney, Wilf Mannion and Nat Lofthouse, as well as a host of former Derby County stars. In 2009, Richards saw a bust of Bloomer unveiled besides the manager’s dugout at Pride Park so that, in the words of the club song, Steve Bloomer is watching.
Richards’s youngest son, Mark, told the Derby Telegraph: “In the 1970s my father worked for the Pepsi corporation where he became friendly with Pele. They worked together on Pepsi’s Word Soccer Programme, which saw Dad flying around the world promoting the company through football.
“He had some amazing tales to tell, including getting caught up in a military coup in the Congo. My Dad and Pele were holed-up in a hotel room and Pele told his wife that his main worry was losing so much money to Steve Richards playing gin rummy.”
Funeral details are to be announced.
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