In one last bit of retrospective and heartwarming news from 2023, Manchester United footballer Chrisitan Eriksen paid a surprise visit to a local primary school in Stretford this past December.
Rocking up to the St Alphonsus Primary School in Old Trafford, the Man United Foundation‘s partnered school just before the festive period, the Danish midfielder, surprised a wide-eyed group of year five and six students with a day of conversation, fun and games — as well as a bit of footy, of course.
Welcomed by headteacher Tina Birds as part of a joint charity effort with the Foundation and BBC’s Match of the Day, Christian helped with reading, plenty of PE in line with the Premier League Primary Stars programme and even a session of ‘Goalball’: an inclusive sport designed for the visually impaired.
Having been injured for a good chunk of the season and only just returning to first-team football, the 31-year-old was keen to make the most of his time on the sidelines and get involved with the Foundation and the programme delivered across its 28 partnered schools.
Christian said of his wholesome morning on 13 December, “It’s amazing to be at the school and see all the kids and what they’ve been doing with the Foundation.
“The children and their parents come to the stadium and watch games; they give encouragement to us on the pitch, so by coming into the local community and meeting the children, it’s a really nice thing to do. It’s very important for me to give back as a Manchester United player. I’m very pleased to be here.”
Reflecting on the impact of the visit, headteacher Birds said, “It has been a wonderful day. Seeing the children’s reactions to Eriksen walking through and participating in the activities that the Foundation were doing – it was absolutely amazing. I will remember it as a headteacher for a long, long time.
“Working with the Foundation and the Premier League Primary Stars programme is all about bringing communities together and it’s so important for my school that we are part of this community… it gives the pupils that aspiration that we really instil in school, and that’s what this programme does brilliantly.”
Starstruck St Alphonsus pupil, Siver, said she was “shocked and happy” to meet the Man United star, adding, “I could never have imagined that. I think it’s important because many people look up to him and everyone admires him.”
The visit was filmed for the most recent MotD which was repeated on New Year’s Eve’s morning show.
Throughout each season, the Manchester United Foundation works in partnership with local primary schools around Greater Manchester and beyond to help develop and improve the well-being and life skills of children aged 5-11.
Working alongside the Premier League Primary Stars programme and in line with the national curriculum, the team’s charity arm addresses physical literacy, healthy lifestyles and the broader curriculum.
Featured Image — Manchester United Foundation (supplied)
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
🖼️ A new County-themed mural is currently being created in Edgeley by a talented group of young street artists – with a little help from Ethan Pye!
The new Stockport County mural is being completed as we speak.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Ethan offering his services off the pitch too.You can’t miss it.Credit: Supplied
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.
Manchester City legend Joe Hart announces he will be retiring at the end of the season
Manchester City legend and ex-England international Joe Hart has announced he will be retiring at the end of the season, bringing a close to a career spanning over two decades.
The iconic Man City keeper and former Three Lions goalkeeper played 266 games for the Blues and had 75 senior caps, but has finally decided to call it a day at the age of 36.
Currently in net for Scottish giants Celtic, who are going for an incredible 54th league title this season, the number one and long-serving English keeper confirmed in a club interview that he will be hanging up his gloves at the end of this campaign.
He also represented his country at three major international tournaments but says he is now in a “place of clarity” and confident in his decision, with manager Brendan Rodgers insisting he will be a “huge miss to the game”. Truly the end of an era.
🧤 Joe Hart announces that he will be retiring from playing football at the end of this season.
Joe Hart is retiring after 20 years at the top level.
Having spent 12 years at City between 2006-2018 and making over 340 appearances in the Premier League at the likes of Burnley, West Ham and a handful for Spurs in club competitions, not to mention nearly a century of games for Celtic since 2021 already, it’s fair to call Joe Hart a footballing veteran.
All told, he has made over 700 appearances at club level and even more all-told, with half of a blockbuster season in Scotland still yet to go. Quite the achievement.
Most famously back here in Manchester though, not only did he pick up four golden gloves during his time at the Etihad but he was also in net for the Aguero goal when the Blues won their first league title in 44 years, and his reaction to the stoppage time winner is almost just as memorable as the strike itself.
But, more importantly, he had plenty of highlight reels of his own.
Speaking to Celtic TV following the announcement, the Shrewsbury-born shot-stopper said: “This something that I have thought about for a while, there’s no right or wrong time is there?…
“Physically I feel great — I feel as good as I possibly can do for my age and what I have done to my body, I have been on the bench since I was 15 and have been involved in professional football every day since I was 16.
“I have gone down every avenue to keep myself in the best possible shape to give my all on game day and I do really think I am at that peak, but I am aware time waits for no man and I don’t want my body to be retiring me. That was one of the key factors, thinking I can smash through the finish line.”