A young Black Cats supporter met one of his heroes after a player accidentally blasted a ball off him before last Sunday’s home game.
Four-year-old Jak Michum was being taken to his second ever game by grandmother Irene Tait.
The pair were in the North Stand at the Stadium of Light ahead of Sunderland’s game against Arsenal as both sides warmed-up.
As little Jak leaned on a billboard at the front of the stand, a stray ball kicked by SAFC defender Billy Jones cannoned off the youngster’s head, leaving him dazed and shocked.
“We were stood at the front of the stand as all the lads were practising,” said Irene, 59, who is mum to Jak’s mum Charlotte, 28.
“Obviously Billy Jones has kicked the ball and the bairn is leaning on the billboards and it’s whacked him right in the head.
Billy came straight over and apologised, so we told him not to worry about.Irene Tait
“Jak didn’t cry but he was very quiet because he was in shock.
“Billy came straight over and apologised, so we told him not to worry about.”
Despite the unfortunate incident, Harton Primary School pupil Jak, who has a dog called Samson after the Sunderland mascot, managed to enjoy the game during the first-half, at the end of which he was given a match shirt by former Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion player Billy. “He was OK by the second-half because a lot of the other fans were coming to see if he was fine, some had even bought him sweets” added Irene, who used to work for Northumbria Police and now sits as an exam invigilator.
“We saw Billy coming over and he gave Jak a shirt with “Jones, 2,” on the back. Then he shook his hand and said he’d been a brave little lad for not crying.
“All the fans were clapping and it was brilliant.
“Footballers get a lot of bad press so it’s nice to see them doing something good.
“It was just an accident and wasn’t Billy’s fault at all.”
Jak, who also went to the recent home game against Leicester City with Irene, is now hooked and eagerly awaiting the next Stadium of Light encounter.
“Jak’s granddad and my partner, Chris Dew, died before Jak was even born in January 2011 and he was a massive Sunderland fan.” said Irene, of Beaconside in South Shields.
“He wouldn’t have wanted him to grow up following Newcastle so he’ll be pleased he’s enjoying watching Sunderland.
“Jak likes going to the games and he can’t wait to be at the Chelsea match.”