A football fan had a day to remember as a club rolled out the red carpet for him – at his first match in 60 years.
John Lewis, from Walderslade, Kent, was given the VIP treatment by South Shields FC for their FA Vase game with Runcorn Linnets at Mariners Park.
The way Shields treated me was unbelievableJohn Lewis
Club chairman Geoff Thompson stepped in after hearing about how John had regularly watched the club play as a youngster, when visiting his uncle Dixie Lewis, who lived in Jarrow.
John, 67, was left overwhelmed after not only being invited to the game, but also treated to a three-course meal and given the opportunity to watch the game from the club’s O’Brien Lounge and present the man of the match award afterwards.
He said: “I hadn’t been up for 60 years, so to get the invite to the game was fantastic. I had used to watch Shields play when I visited my uncle, because I would come up for a few weeks at a time.
“The way Shields treated me was unbelievable.
“I had started following the games online and got talking to a Shields fan, David Nye. I said we should meet up for a pint, and within five minutes, I got a message saying he had spoken to Geoff, and he told me to come to the game as a guest of the club.
“I had a fantastic day, and I certainly don’t intend to wait another 60 years for my next visit.”
Shields won 2-1 with a stoppage time winner, and an even later save by goalkeeper Liam Connell secured him the man of the match award, selected and presented by John.
He added: “The result was the icing on the cake for me.
“I took the opportunity to buy a shirt while I was there as well, and I wear it every Saturday now. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and you can see why the club is so popular.”
A record Mariners Park crowd of more than 2,000 is expected to watch South Shields take on North Shields tomorrow.