Stockport County FC has surprised a long-time fan in a local hospice with the chance to lift their title-winning trophy.
Stephen Foster has been supporting Stockport County since 1958, and had the same seat at the ground for over 50 years, but he is now currently a patient receiving end of life care at St Ann’s Hospice in Heald Green and unfortunately had to watch this past weekend’s history-making match from his hospice bed.
This sadly meant Stephen missed seeing his beloved team win the National League title and secure promotion back to the Football League in person.
But after seeing a photo of the 79-year-old fan watching the game from the hospice on Twitter, and after hearing just how long Stephen had been supporting the club for, Stockport County decided to put a plan into action and make a visit to the hospice to surprise patients.
They also brought the title trophy along with them, and gave Stephen the “once in a lifetime opportunity” to lift it alongside his heroes.
And it was all just a day before Stephen’s 80th birthday.
“I’ve been supporting County since 1958,” Stephen said.
“I’ve seen good matches, and I’ve seen bad matches. I’ve even been to Wembley five times, and then the day they got promoted, I couldn’t be there, but I watched it here at St Ann’s Hospice – but if I had been at the match, I wouldn’t be holding the trophy now.”
Steve Bellis – Club President at Stockport County FC, who brought the trophy along – said: “This is what it’s all about.
“Trophies are for the fans, they don’t belong in cabinets.
“Someone like Stephen who has been supporting since 1958, that’s a lot of matches that he has watched, and to put a smile on his face was fantastic – it’s about the community, everywhere we take it.
“If we bring a smile to someone’s day, then it’s all worthwhile.”
“What a fantastic thing for Stockport County to do for Stephen and the rest of our patients,” added Rachel McMillan – Chief Executive at Stockport County.
“It was really exciting for patients, visitors and staff to have the opportunity to see the trophy and hold it too.
“When they think of hospices, people often think that they are sad places, and of course we have very sad days, but we’re always really focused on making sure we can help support our patients to achieve their goals too – whether that’s being able to walk to the bathroom or sit in our café for a drink.
“Or hold aloft the cup from their beloved football team.”
Wigan Athletic’s James McClean reveals autism diagnosis in heartfelt Instagram message
Wigan Athletic and Ireland star James McClean has revealed his recent autism diagnosis in solidarity with the ASD community and to help support the international week of awareness.
The Latics, long-serving Irish international and former Premier League winger informed his followers of the personal news in a heartwarming social media post with his young daughter who is also autistic.
In contrast to his four-year-old girl, Willow-Ivy — whose autism was recognised early on — McClean has only just learned of his own diagnosis, having “decided to go and get an ASD [autism spectrum disorder] assessment” after spotting “so many small traits in her” that he sees in himself.
Taking to Instagram, the 33-year-old said he felt there was no better time to make this announcement than during Autism Awareness and Acceptance Week (27 March-2 April) and stand in solidarity with his daughter and others who are on the spectrum.
As he details in the caption: “The last 4 years have been life-changing in the most amazing way but also very difficult at times as her daddy watching her overcome so many obstacles in her life and learning how to manage the challenges she faces on a daily basis.
“The more Erin [partner] and I learned about autism the more we began to recognise I was very similar to Willow in more ways than we thought… It’s been a bit of a journey and now having a diagnosis I feel it’s time to share it.”
He goes on to admit that he “debated for a while going public” but that he’s now “done this for Willow-Ivy, to let her know that [he] understand[s] and that being autistic won’t and should never hold her back from reaching her goals and dreams.” Such a lovely and inspiring message.
No one should ever feel like they need to hide what makes them the person that they are a secret. We applaud you for speaking out, James, and wish you and your little girl all the best.
Rodri slams ‘rubbish’ Scotland despite historic 2-0 defeat as Scott McTominay scores yet again
Manchester City star Rodri has called out Scotland for their “rubbish” tactics and style of play following their now famous 2-0 win over Spain.
Scotland hosted Spain at Hampden Park stadium on Tuesday night in the first round of Euro 2024 qualifiers and after having beaten Cyprus 3-0 on 25 March, the Tartan army managed an even more significant victory over the three-time champions, beating them for the first time since 1984.
Speaking to media after the game and obviously disappointed with the result, the Man City midfielder said that he didn’t feel the scoreline fully reflected the game and had a very clear opinion on what he thought of the home side’s performance.
In a word: “rubbish”.
Rodri went on to argue that, in his mind, “this is not football”, claiming that the opposition were “always wasting time” and trying to “provoke” the Spanish players by going to ground after most tackles.
The 26-year-old was also critical of the officials, intimating that the referee had the opportunity to intervene but simply “said nothing”.
On the contrary, the Scottish reporter interviewing challenged the Spaniard by suggesting that many fans within the ground would argue that Spain were guilty of the same “in terms of how quickly the players went down”. Rodri naturally disagreed.
Either way, it wasn’t time-wasting that made the headlines on the night, it was Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, who bagged yet another brace to send the national stadium into pandemonium with his third and fourth goals for Scotland in the last two games.
The 26-year-old opened the scoring inside just seven minutes and grabbed his second similarly early into the second half with an instinctive volley.
Along with his double against Cyprus at the weekend, that makes four goals in the last two games, with many Reds noting his heroics have come a key time with the likes of Casemiro suspended and Austrian international Marcel Sabitzer potentially injured again.
McTominay might have dropped out of United’s first-choice midfield when everyone is fit but has still proven himself to be a solid squad player.
Moreover, perhaps this international break has helped him send a message to Erik ten Hag ahead of a key period for the club.