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SUNDAY 19  MAY 2024

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Last orders for the great John Stead as he dies aged 77

CALLED TO THE BAR: John Stead entertaining former Fleet Street colleagues in his local Waggoners pub. From left: Dave Harbord, Danny Gallagher, Dave Morgan, John Stead and Mal Tattersall.

By MALCOLM TATTERSALL


FORMER Manchester and Fleet Street legend John Stead, who loved his beer and fags so much that at one time he ran his own pub, has shuffled off to the great boozer in the sky that never shuts.


Twice-married father-of-two John, 77, started his national newspaper career on the Daily Express at the Black Lubianka in Ancoats, Manchester, but joined the new Daily Star as assistant chief sub in 1978.


When the Star moved its production department down to London in 1989, John stayed oop north, working for the tits-and-bums Sunday Sport before former colleague Dave Harbord, then night editor of Today, lured him down to Wapping as copytaster.


After Today closed, John, pictured, switched to the Sun features desk where he worked until retirement, as well as doing regular weekend shifts on the Sunday Mirror.


Former colleague Danny Gallagher said: ‘I never once saw John lose his temper. He had a great sense of humour. He’d always see the funny side of office mayhem and laugh it off.’


Or as Brian Hancill, who worked with John on the Sunday Mirror, put it: “Steady by name, Steady by nature. He was unflappable, no matter what.”


Sun colleague Dave Morgan added: “We all looked up to John. He was a thoughtful man as well as great company. He was like a moral compass, giving people much-needed guidance. I valued his friendship and wise words.”


Sara Adhikari, now back home in India, recalled:  “To me, John represented the kind of journo I imagined Fleet Street was full of ­– drinking, smoking and being politically incorrect at every opportunity.


‍ “But I discovered there was a huge kindness beneath all that bluster. Despite his sometimes acerbic behaviour, John was really a big soft softie.”


Last word to Terry Lloyd, who said: “Farewell to a Fleet Street legend. You’ll be missed, Steady.”


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PHIL JOHNSON said in tribute: I was deeply saddened to read about the death of John Stead. Steady was Chief Sub when I joined the Daily Sport in the early 90s.


He took me under his wing and as I sat next to him I saw how good he was every day. And fabulous company both in the office and in the pub.


After a few years he switched to Features Production and asked if I fancied moving over with him. Took me seconds to decide and off we went.


One day I was scratching my head over a Valentines centre spread. He asked what was up and I said there was a headline in there, but could not get it. In an instant he shouted ‘GIFT HER ONE!’

‘Brilliant,’ I replied as we picked ourselves up from falling over laughing.


It summed everything up for me. The spirit of the Daily Sport at the time and the genius of the natural headline writer. I saw it many more times, but that one always sticks with me.

Good friend, great journalist and brilliant company over a beer. Thank you Steady, and RIP.

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BOB CUMMINGS said: John took over The New Inn near Norden, Rochdale in the late 70s or early 80s. His wife was going to do the catering. It was a bit rough and I don't think they were there long.


‍ It was eventually taken over by celebrity chef Andrew Nutter and turned into a restaurant called French Connection before becoming Nutters. It's now a children's nursery which a fairly normal career path for a pub these days.


Glad to hear he actually made it to 77!