In May 2015, I came across a website called Branch of Science.
It was a strange feeling, a bit like Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club going to different places only to find that Tyler Durden had been there before him, with people giving knowing looks.
Covering all aspects of football culture – kits, books, comics, films, toys and the like – it was as if I had made the site, except it was better – see here for an archived version. When I found out that it was the brain-child of Seb Patrick, someone whom I had read in When Saturday Comes and followed on Twitter, I had to get in touch to express my gratitude and appreciation.
Naturally, he accepted my gushing praise with humility and a loose correspondence built up but it was the rebooting of Roy of the Rovers that proved to be real trigger in a friendship developing. With David Hartrick’s mutual passion for the magazine also shining through on Twitter, the three of us resolved to come up with a podcast and Beyond The Touchline was what resulted – essentially an aural version of Branch of Science.
We recorded a new episode last Wednesday, going through a 1991 ROTR edition page by page and all seemed well. On Sunday, in our WhatsApp group I asked Seb an inane question about the British Grand Prix as Formula 1 was one of his many deep interests and when his name popped up on the screen, I assumed it was another patient, non-condescending response but instead it was his wife Jo, to tell us that Seb had sadly died.
Despite such a premature departure, it’s quite frankly mind-boggling how Seb managed to achieve much. I know about the football, of course, and F1 Colours as well as his other podcasts, Cinematic Universe and Mifflinfinity.
However, while I knew he was a film buff and had written for Den of Geek (here’s a lovely Back to the Future piece), it wasn’t until Empire tweeted that I realised he was also a contributor to that. Similarly, I knew he was a big Red Dwarf fan but didn’t know he edited the official website. He did all of that as well as holding down a ‘real’ job, as a web manager with integrated agency Social. To be so widely talented without shoving it in everybody’s faces is a talent in itself. His own website outlines a huge body of work, but never in a boastful way.
His first interaction with this site was after I posted a piece on a kit-design competition from the relaunched monthly Roy of the Rovers – he offered scans from similar competitions undertaken in 1991.
In real life, he was a Liverpool fan – as well as supporting his local non-league side, Marine – and I’m so happy that he got to see them winning the league again. Indicative of his vintage perhaps, his favourite strip was the 1991-92 home and that design formed the basis for his first Fantasy Kit Friday request, reimagining Melchester in early 90s adidas.
Another request that emanated from him was a popular one where the 2018-19 Premier League clubs had their kits redone with ‘classic’ sponsors.
Only on Saturday, he sent a picture of a Subbuteo box he had seen in a second-hand shop, accompanied with the message: “I don’t need this and I’ve nowhere to put it, but five quid for an eighties Club Edition box!”
That was Seb – best summed up by his friend Andrew Ellard:
To Seb’s wife Jo, daughter Lois, wider family and a truly countless number of friends, we offer our deepest sympathies.