Philip John Steele

Philip John Steele

Age: 15

The third of four children, Philip John Steele attended the semi-final with his family. The 15 year-old was an altar boy at his local church, a role he'd held since the age of nine.

At the inquests, his mother Dolores said of Philip: "From the minute he was born until he died, he filled our family with love and joy. I never heard Philip say anything negative about anyone."

Portrait by his mother Dolores Steele

On May 24, 1973, we welcomed into our family our new baby son and decided to name him Philip John Steele, as his birthday fell so close to the feast of St Philip.

His brother, Paul, and his sister, Denise, were delighted with the new addition to our family, and they were pleased to note every sign of progress along the way. Nearly three years later, Brian was born and this completed our family unit. Philip was only 15 years of age when he was taken from us.

Philip loved his life, his school, work and play, but there was something that came top of his list, and that was football. We knew straight away that his favourite football team would be Liverpool, following in his father's footsteps. The boys were full of excitement when their dad, Les, took them to Anfield and when I joined them at home matches.

Philip spent hours reading about Liverpool Football Club. He knew about football heroes past and present and everything there was to know about the club.

I still have a collection of his football books that he always had his head buried in. He sat quiet and contentedly reading these books, and I often teased him and said, "Philip, you are just making too much noise in here!"

I can clearly remember cold winter nights when our family grouped around the television watching video tapes of Laurel and Hardy with a bag of sweets. Whilst watching, Philip sometimes burst into fits of laughter, so much so that we would all turn our attention on him and away from Laurel and Hardy, wondering what was so funny; sorry, Stan and Ollie.

When I think of our lovely son, his laughter rings in my ears.

We had a lot of fun together as a family, often going on family holidays to Jersey. Our hotel was on the beach and we were always blessed with good weather. One year, Les decided to buy all the children surfboards, which nobody knew how to use. They were on the beach in shallow water two inches deep and trying to surf. It was a scene and I just remember thinking, 'this isn't going anywhere', but they had so much fun with each other.

Philip joined the Cubs, and although he was very quiet natured, he really enjoyed all the activities, including camping excursions to various places. He also became an altar boy in our local church at nine, a duty he took seriously. He is still well remembered at our church.

I can remember one Easter, our priest Father John Hyland asked Philip and Brian to say the prayers of The Stations of the Cross at the 3pm service on Good Friday. Father John asked the boys to come to church in the morning and practice the prayers.

I overheard Philip say, "If we have to go to church any more times today, I may as well bring my bed", which made me chuckle.

Brian and Philip were very close, as they were only two years apart. As the youngest, Brian loved to play with the older children, and so he tagged along with Philip. I bumped into one of Philip's friends not so long ago, and he told me how he recalls Brian always being by Philip's side, uninvited, but Philip never minded.

We did a lot of things together as a family and, on 15 April, 1989, we awoke to a beautiful bright sunny day to attend the match together. Les and I took our dog for a walk and our daughter Denise set off for work.

We left home at 10am, making sure we had plenty of time to drive to Sheffield. Les was a stickler for good time-keeping, so an early start was inevitable.

Les was never the same since we lost Philip and died in September 2001. He could not come to terms with the fact that we were at Hillsborough and that he was unable to save his son. It was all too much for him.

In concluding this short summary of Philip's life, may I say, from the minute he was born until he died, he filled our family with love and joy. I never heard Philip say anything negative about anyone.

My first thought each morning is of Philip, as well as the last thought at night. He is always with us. Thank you for your love and beautiful smile.

That smile could light up the world and I am very proud of you, Philip.

 

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