Former Sheffield United stars lead tributes to one of club's 'most devoted' fans

Tributes to one of Sheffield United’s ‘most devoted’ supporters have poured in, with former players and an ex-chairman among those paying their respects.

Monday, 8th July 2019, 15:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th July 2019, 15:50 pm

Stephen ‘Sully’ O’Sullivan was one of the club’s biggest characters, according to those who knew him, with his death described as a ‘very sad loss’ for the Blades community.

The 61-year-old former scaffolder, who travelled far and wide to follow his beloved red-and-whites, was sadly found dead at his home in Heeley yesterday morning.

Stephen 'Sully' O'Sullivan (far right) and his brother Paddy (far left) celebrating after a Sheffield United game with former players Paul Devlin (second from right) and Curtis Woodhouse (second from left) (pic: Paul Devlin)

His sudden death, the cause of which remains unknown, came just days before he was due to travel to Portugal with fellow fans to watch the club’s first pre-season friendly.

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Kassim Ahmed, who runs coach trips for Blades fans and was a close friend of Sully’s, said: “He was a proper character, who was very funny and a real charmer. He could be a bit rough and ready, but he had a heart of gold and was always the life and soul of any party.

“He was red-and-white through and through, and you knew if he ever missed a game it had to be something really serious stopping him. It’s fair to say he was one of the club’s most devoted supporters.”

Stephen 'Sully' O'Sullivan (pic: Gary Sinclair/Facebook)

Kassim told how a story from another pre-season tour to Portugal a few years ago summed up Sully’s commitment to the club – and his determination never to miss out on a good party.

“We got to Birmingham Airport, from where we were flying to Faro, and when he got out his passport it was an old one with the corner cut off,” he said.

“Anyone else would have given it up as a bad job but he got a taxi home to pick up his proper passport and then paid for another flight out that night so he could join us. It must have cost him an absolute fortune but to him it was worth it.”

Sully’s brother Paddy described the father-of-one, who is survived by his son Duane and grandson Nyall, as the ‘best brother ever’.

“He was a brilliant uncle to my son and daughter, and my granddaughter loved him – as did everyone who knew him,” he added.

“He was a great character, and I’ve had people ringing me from Bolton, Liverpool, Stoke – you name it – to say how gutted they are. It shows how many friends he made while travelling across the country following the Blades.”

Paddy told how Sully, who was a regular at The Barrel Inn on London Road, had got to know many Blades players past and present over the years, and counted manager Chris Wilder and co-owner Kevin McCabe among his friends.

Former Sheffield United midfielder Paul Devlin, who represented the club from 1998-2002, first met Sully at the Cricketers Arms on Bramall Lane and became very close to him and his family.

“Two things stand out about Sully: how devoted he was to his football club and how devoted he was to his family,” he said.

“I count myself fortunate to have been a close friend of Sully and his family, with whom I’ve had some very happy times, and his death has come as a big shock to everyone who knew him.”

Curtis Woodhouse, another former Blades midfielder, tweeted: “Terrible to wake up to the news about Sully. Top, top bloke. A proper London Road legend. Had some right laughs with him over the years. Gutted when I heard late last night.”

Gary Sinclair, Sheffield United’s stadium announcer, said: “Sully was just a great character, who was always singing, always laughing and was just proper old school. It’s a very sad loss for the Blades community, and it’s a shame he won’t get to see the club back in the Premier League.”

Jim Phipps, former co-chairman of the club, also paid an emotional tribute, tweeting: “I loved Sully. He was good to me, Lori and my boys during our time in Sheffield. He sang to us and made us laugh. RIP You Beautiful, Beautiful Blade!”