Remembering Steph Williams

Today marks five years since the passing of former Blues Women’s captain Steph Williams who lost her battle with cancer on March 12 2016.

Steph Williams, nee Samuels, joined Blues, then Birmingham City Ladies, at the age of 12 and spent 14 dedicated seasons with the Club. Adorning the armband with pride for a number of these campaigns, Steph retired at the end of the 2007/08 season.

During this period, the defender – from Acocks Green – was an integral part of the Blues setup and helped the team gain promotion to the top flight back in 2002.

As valuable as her achievements over the white line was Steph’s importance off the pitch. An inspirational teammate and leader, she was the core of not only the Club but what became a footballing family thanks to her enthusiasm and commitment.

In 2007, she was engaged to her husband LaTaryl Williams with whom she would later move to America and have a daughter, Lili.

It was when living in the United States that Steph was diagnosed with breast cancer and a year later secondary cancer in the liver, before the disease became so aggressive that she passed aged 35.

Along with her husband and Daughter, Steph was survived by her parents, Gail and Patrick. It was their desire, along with former teammate Marie Ballard to ensure they fulfilled Steph’s final wishes of being laid to rest in Birmingham.

This was achieved by a monumental fundraising effort, with the level and continuation of donations, even when the target was reached, being a testament to Steph’s popularity and how she impacted everyone she came into contact with.

The funeral was attended by staff and players from the Club, with then-manager David Parker dedicating the subsequent victory over Doncaster Rovers Belles to Steph.

The number five shirt has since been retired by Blues Women in Steph’s memory, with the end of season RTC honours now including a Steph Williams Award.

Her legacy is further evidenced by Steph’s influence on players who would go on to be full England internationals, such as Karen Carney and Jo Potter.

Another that benefitted from Steph’s guidance, Laura Bassett, recently expressed on social media what she meant to her.

Blues Women's General Manager, Sarah Westwood, who is also a former teammate of Steph, paid tribute on the fifth anniversary of her passing.

"Playing with Steph as a youngster at Blues was amazing. I remember during training sessions when I was in the first team; any time I held the ball up and she didn’t win it from me, or I won a header before her, or scored a goal in training, I was over the moon for the next day or so! Steph was an immense defender and it was rare that anyone got past her in training let alone a match!

"Steph’s legacy is clear to see today.  Her hard work, dedication and leadership on the pitch was evident for everyone to see, but she was a humble, kind and caring teammate, making sure everyone was okay and always asking how you are and how your family was. We pride ourselves to this day on being a family based club and putting people first – quite literally, that is because of Steph.

"I will always remember Steph’s smile. It was constant and infectious, she was always laughing and joking with teammates and staff. As a captain and a teammate, she was one of the best and I will be thinking of her and her family today with very fond memories."

Today, Birmingham City Football Club remembers Steph Williams, a stalwart and true blue.

The Club sends its thoughts to all of Steph’s family and friends.