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Match days with dad: Football fans share their stories

8:52 AMGoalChatter

by Aleks V |

In honor of Father's Day, football fans look back on the most memorable games they've attended with their dads and granddads.

Paul Binning
Twitter: @TheExiledRobin
Club: Bristol City

It was Bristol City vs Mansfield in the 1987 Freight Rover Trophy Final. It was our second successive appearance in the final, having beaten Bolton Wanderers 3-0 in our first-ever match at Wembley the previous season. We'd gone into the game having just failed to make the Division 3 playoffs, with a crucial penalty miss from Gordon Owen in the crunch match against Swindon on the final day. Two weeks later, we were at Wembley and big favorites to retain our trophy.

My main memories of the day are the journey up, with the inevitable traffic jam of cars, minibuses and coaches as we crawled around the North Circular. It was a bit strange for us as were playing in white for some reason, not our traditional red, so the club had obviously done a fantastic trade in white shirts and flags which dominated Wembley Way as we walked up. I think we had nearly 40,000 of the 58,000 attendance.

The game is a bit of a blur, to be honest, but I do remember us equalizing late on and the game going to penalties as it was our first-ever penalty shoot-out. When Gordon Owen stepped up, the reaction of all the fans around was “oh no, not again,” and it proved to be prophetic as he once again failed to convert from the spot with our final kick, which would have won us the trophy. Two penalty misses in two weeks costing us a playoff spot and a trophy! David Moyes then stepped up to take our sixth penalty, missed, and Mansfield won the match.

Granddad was a big football fan – and, like many of his generation, went to watch both Bristol City and Bristol Rovers after the second World War, partly because there was little else to do, partly as they were just so pleased to have the freedom to do so. He was always very gracious toward “The Gas” despite his strong City allegiance, and talked warmly of their great players from the '50s and '60s. But he was a City man and as such his four children all were too, including my mum who went regularly throughout the 1970s until she had me! Her and my Dad now go home and away almost everywhere.

Granddad was a season ticket holder right up until his last year, but rarely went to away games. He did talk a lot about olden days football, especially “The Arsenal,” who were such a big team in his formative years and who he talked of often, especially around the dinner table with our Sunday roast.

My other main memory of him is getting into muddles with players names – especially the foreign players once they started coming into lower league football in the 1990s, and it was a cause for celebration when he actually got a name right, instead of stuttering over it and eventually leaning back on “that foreign kiddy.”

Ava H.
YouTube: Daz H
Club: Carlisle United
Ava H. and her dad at Workington AFC's last game at Borough Park.

Most memorable game with dad?

My visit with dad to Workington AFC's last ever game at their Borough Park ground. Although we support Carlisle United, we were supporting our local non-league team. We love the vibe of non-league grounds and the closeness to the pitch and players, and I met the keepers.

I love every game, but my favorite was Derby away in a cup game in 2016 which we took to pens and lost 14-13. Longest penalty shootout I have ever seen!

Mike Smith
Blog: Auld Reekie Rants
Twitter: @Mike1874
Club: Heart of Midlothian
Mike Smith's grandson Jack (left) at his first Scottish Cup semi-final
The game we were at was the Scottish Cup semi-final between Hearts and Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Hampden Park [on April 13]. 

It was [my grandson] Jack’s first cup semi-final as a Hearts fan whereas I have lost count at the number of semi-finals I’ve been at in over 50 years. Jack was excited at the prospect while I was dreading Hearts messing up yet another cup semi-final, as they have done so many times over the years I’ve been following them. We headed to Glasgow by train and the joy we felt at Hearts actually winning the game and getting to the final was a wonderful shared experience. It would be Jack’s first cup final and hopefully not his last.

Following Hearts is only a relatively recent thing for my family. I attended my first Hearts game in 1968, but it was something of a twist of fate that I’m a Hearts fan. I was living in Cumbernauld, just outside Glasgow, in the late 1960s. My father didn’t want me following either Celtic or Rangers with all the nonsense associated with the pair. So he took me to watch Falkirk at Brockville Park for my first game in October 1968 with a view to me being a Falkirk Bairn. However, Hearts were the visitors to Brockville that day. They brought a huge support – they outnumbered the Falkirk fans – and the atmosphere they created was brilliant. I was in awe and the fact Hearts won 3-1 sealed it for me – Hearts were going to be my team!

I now have two grownup daughters, neither of whom are too interested in football. However, daughter Laura’s son Jack has always followed Hearts. I’ve been taking him to games for six years now and we’re season ticket holders. It’s created a close bond between us. If Jack has children of his own, I’m sure he’ll carry this family trait on!

Stuart Watson
Twitter: @StuartWatson3
Club: Arsenal
Stuart Watson and his dad at Arsenal vs Wigan, May 2006.
The game was [Arsenal's] last one at Highbury before the move to the Emirates Stadium, so it was emotional for us all who had been attending regularly (myself since 1994) and also we needed to win to pip Tottenham into 4th place for Champions League qualification.

I went to games with my dad from the early '90s until early 2018 when he passed away from cancer. Dad and I used to watch the limited amount of games that were live on TV in the late 1980s and the first game I can recall is watching is when Arsenal won the title at Anfield in 1989. Dad picked me up and swung me around the living room when Michael Thomas scored!

Vivienne MacLaren
Twitter: @vivienne7
Club: Heart of Midlothian
Vivienne MacLaren and her dad celebrated his 70th birthday by going to a Hearts game
This was the last game of the 2015-16 season and Hearts were playing St Johnstone. My dad celebrated his 70th and I promised him a year of sports treats. We went to Wimbledon too, but his highlight was this game. Luckily we were invited to the game as guests and they knew it was for a celebration. When we arrived, my dad was given a Hearts pin badge that he wore on his jacket – he was so proud! It was a lovely sunny day and the game ended 2-all – typical end of season affair. We got pitch side and then met ex-player John Robertson who was my fave as a wee girl! Dad said it was one of the best days he'd ever had.

My dad always took my sister and I to football and sports generally, and my first game at Tynecastle Park was when I was 11 (we live in Glasgow, so day trip to Edinburgh). We both played football too – my sister to a high standard. Our first ever game was Pollok FC in Junior Cup Final at Hampden in the 1984-85 season. We used to go and see Scotland at home too. My sister ended up loving football and went to her beloved Rangers every weekend.

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