What a heartwarming story this is.
Liverpool fans have been praised wholeheartedly by the mother of disabled Everton fan JJ Ireland, who sat with Reds in the Anfield Road end during the Merseyside Derby on Wednesday night.
JJ was given tickets to the game by Liverpool fans as a gesture of good will, as earlier in the season, the eight-year-old was abused by Manchester City supporters at the Etihad – which had a big effect on him.
As a result, JJ had been too scared to attend any more away games, and his trip to Anfield midweek was described as ‘make or break’ by his mother.
Thankfully, JJ was treated perfectly by the surrounding Reds, and mum Helen has issued a heartfelt thanks.
“When he got to the stadium he was very panicky and nervous but the stewards took him down to the front of the pitch and reassured him. They told him he didn’t have to stay if he didn’t want to and made him feel much better,” she told the Echo.
“He went on to have an absolutely brilliant time.
“All the Reds fans around him were patting him on the back and were made up for him being there. The Liverpool fans have been absolutely fantastic.
“When they were singing You’ll Never Walk Alone he got up and started to shout ‘Everton! Everton!’ and everyone around him thought it was great. They were so pleased he had the guts to do that.
“He was spoilt rotten!
“I just want to say a big thank you to everyone for everything they have done for JJ, especially to Robbie Owen who gave him the ticket, Shaun Kelly, the woman with the goodie bag and the two lads who gave him the card.
“It is just brilliant to see the two teams come together like this and it has put a huge smile on his face.
“It was all great, apart from the score – he woke up this morning and said he did not want to go to school because his mates would take the mickey out of him!”
It’s this kind of story that sets Liverpool fans apart. Our rivalry with Everton is intense and real, but supporters can thankfully see the bigger picture.
Sadly, Liverpool’s players were a little less giving, thrashing the lad’s side 4-0 in one of the most one-sided derbies we’ve ever seen!