CHRISTENED John Steele Deary, “Loafy”, as he is more commonly known, could be described as the driving force behind the Vintage Clarets.
Much as he was as a player in the midfield engine rooms at Blackpool and Burnley, Deary keeps things ticking over and is usually at the heart of what happens on and off the field.
A likeable rogue, he endeared himself to me one night in Southend when I was part of the Burnley FC party on a stopover following a particularly harrowing game at Roots Hall. Not only had the Clarets lost, again, but young centre half Mark Monington had sustained what was thought at the time to be a career-threatening knee injury.
Manager Frank Casper had organised a bit of a social evening for the squad in a backroom at the hotel and with Monington sat forlornly with his damaged limb propped up on a chair, Loafy decided to lighten the mood in his own inimitable way.
He disappeared for a while and wasn’t really missed – but nobody could miss his grand re-entrance. He appeared naked except for my tie adorning a certain part of his anatomy, proceeded to whoop around the room doing an Indian war dance and then picked up a plate of steaming hot curry and tipped it over my head! Who says the players never get their own back on the Press?
That’s Loafy. But how did he come by that nickname?
“I was injured at Blackpool as a young player and we had a physio who had been at Manchester City called Billy Haydock. As he was treating me one morning I said to him light-heartedly ‘Billy, you’ve got a head like an onion!’ He told me where to go in words of one syllable and we continued to exchange banter over the next few days until he turned round one morning and said ‘Anyway you’ve got a head like a cottage loaf.’
“The rest of the lads got to know about it and somehow the nickname Loafy stuck. Everybody calls me it except at work and it has got to the stage now where I just don’t respond when someone calls me John.”
Talking of work, John established a very successful home improvements firm by the name of Astraglaze, based in his hometown of Ormskirk, shortly after ending his playing career. In fact the project was under way on the team coach at Burnley as John could often be seen with an A4 pad on his lap preparing a business plan.
“I did start the business at Burnley and did the old club shop at the time,” said John, whose firm specializes in double glazing and conservatories. “With that, my three daughters and the Vintage Clarets I am kept busy most of the time but I do play a little golf.”
John played 209 times for Burnley scoring six goals between 1989-95. In a playing career that spanned 20 years between 1980 and 2000 he played a total of 586 games and scored 25 goals at Blackpool, Burnley, Rochdale and Southport.