It’s taken me a couple of days to write this. As I’ve struggled to find the right words. I'll be honest, I am not sure that even now, three days on, I can do justice to the woman I, and many colleagues are mourning.
On Friday I learnt that one of the most selfless and positive people I’ve ever known had passed away.
Linda O’Brien was a sports reporter, at one time with Central, where she presented in the West Midlands until 2009, but also with Anglia, Sky and most recently Premier League productions.
She was superb and tireless.
When someone dies we all say nice things, and so we should, they usually deserve it. But sometimes death seems even crueler, like here, when it has taken someone who had demonstrated nothing but kindness, always putting others first and was still young.
To quote a musical I’m fond of, ‘Death doesn’t discriminate, it just takes and it takes and it takes’. Sorry Linda, I know you’d have preferred a line from U2.
I last spoke to Linda via ‘zoom’ less than a month ago, at a press conference. That’s how we saw each other most of the time really. I should point out we weren’t ‘close’ friends, but we’d known each other for years. I did have a fair few non work related conversations with her in recent times, and after her cancer returned for a second time, I sent her a message.
This was in April, when Covid had caused lockdown. For cancer patients this was a particularly frightening time, as chemotherapy ruins your immune system and those, like Linda, undergoing such treatment would be in real danger should this relentless pandemic come knocking on their door.
Obviously I was worried about my former colleague, it seemed to me that after all she had been through, this was the last thing she needed.
As if getting cancer for the second time, just months after being told it had gone, wasn’t bad enough.... So I got in touch with her. I’m going to paste her reply at the end of this, because in many ways it sums her up.
You’ll note how she is more concerned about me and my family than of herself. And also you’ll see she tells me that she is ‘pretty lucky’.
Our conversation went on a while longer and at the end of it she’d made me feel really positive about it all.
But hang on, I thought I was the one trying to give her support..? That was Linda all over. Oh, and it's not just me, take a look on twitter and search her name, see all the tributes from many high profile sports people who have come into contact with her.
A rare public outpouring for someone who was far from famous. I’ll miss you Linda, thank you for all your smiles and encouragement over the years.
You won't be forgotten. RIP.
Many football clubs took to twitter to pay tribute to Linda O'Brien
Linda's text message, April 2020. “Hello Steve. The less I have to do the less I actually do! I'm doing great thanks. I was staying in and avoiding infection before and doing exactly the same now- except the sun is shining- yayy! And I have a garden, those poor sods in high rises with kids. Well I'm pretty lucky. In London with my dad. Still on chemo. I hope you're doing ok and all your loved ones are safe and well. Also, hope you're getting to spend more time at home and you're not being put in danger. Look after yourself, you’re a sweetheart for keeping in touch. x”