This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the Cambridge United matchday programme for the game against Bristol Rovers on 30 October 2015.
It was good to see Steve Fallon back at the Abbey in March, when he took his place among those shortlisted for a place in the Cambridge United Hall of Fame.
We were nodding our heads as his old teammate Alan Biley said that of all the men he played with at United, Steve was the most suited to grace the top of the game.
He never played at English football's highest level. It's that division's loss: it is the poorer for never seeing Steve show just how good a footballer he was.
He's been associated with Cambridge so long, it’s easy to forget that he grew up near the other place.
Yes, he’s a native of Whittlesey and as an impressionable youngster professed a fondness for Tottenham Hotspur and Posh.
Those youthful indiscretions have long been forgiven, for Steve matured into one of the greatest footballers and servants of the game our city has ever had.
Count ’em: 446 appearances (and the little matter of 30 goals) in all competitions for United, in a career that spanned 13 seasons.
Then he goes and makes a good fist of a job in the club’s commercial department while limbering up for a management career that took in Cambridge City, Histon, Soham Town Rangers and Histon again.
The years he spent in his first spell at Bridge Road, taking the team from the Eastern Counties League to the Conference play-off semi-finals, may have coloured some younger fans’ views of the man, but who will forget his appearance at the head of the United supporters’ solidarity march ahead of our last Football League game of 2005?
Ken Shellito didn’t say much worth listening to during his brief tenure as gaffer in 1985, but it was nail-on-head stuff when he explained why he made Steve his captain: ‘I thought [he] should have the job because he is Cambridge United … In the time I have been at Cambridge I have never heard anyone say a bad word about him as a player or as a person.’
It was a much more successful manager, Ron Atkinson, who had brought Steve from Kettering to Newmarket Road in March 1975.
We think of him as a centre back of skill, strength and intelligence, but it was as a left back and in midfield that he established himself, before teaming up with the likes of Brendon Batson and Dave Stringer as his central defensive career flourished.
Those illustrious names would later be joined as defensive partners by such black-and-amber legends as Lindsay ‘Wolfie’ Smith, David Moyes, Andy Beattie, Keith Osgood and Chris Turner.
He knew where the goal was, too, as an unforgettable, 40-yard volleyed screamer at Gillingham in January 1978 showed.
He was at it again, from closer range this time, as United overcame Exeter 2-1 later that season to climb into the Second Division.
Top clubs like Tottenham and Derby offered sums up to £200,000 for his services, but his United career was far from finished.
Steve was a tower of strength throughout United’s amazing six-year spell in the second tier and beyond, as the club’s fortunes plummeted in the mid-80s.
By now the number of knee operations was beginning to mount and, finally, he was forced to call it a day in November 1986, at the early age of 30.