John’s Blog

John's blog

Getting Through This Together

“We’ll Be With You”

The song title of this short piece is in fact the club anthem sung loudly by Stoke City football fans as the teams emerge from the tunnel before the start of each home game. If you are wondering why this is particularly appropriate in these difficult times, then read on …………..

Quite rightly, much of the focus during the corona virus crisis has been on protecting the elderly but one could reasonably argue that it is the young who have actually missed out most in recent months. This is very evident to me when I consider just how much the present situation impacts upon the day-to-day life of my six-year-old grandson, William, who my wife and I have not seen ‘in the flesh’ for over two months now – ditto his one-year-old sister Emily and his parents (our daughter Lauren and partner Dan) even though they live just 20 minutes away by car. Of course we know we are replicating a situation which is mirrored all over the country at the moment.

Since lockdown began William has temporarily ‘lost’ his school and his favourite teacher, his friends, his extended family, his park playground, his weekend swimming, his weekly stage school, Sunday trips out in the car, training and playing for his local under-7’s football team and – probably most importantly for him  – his Saturday visits with his grandad (yours truly) to the Bet 365 stadium to see his beloved Stoke City play! 

When you read that catalogue of routine experiences which are presently absent in William’s life, you realise that it is quite something for a youngster of any age to cope with. The ongoing substitutes – homeschooling, playing with toys in the house and in the garden, watching TV, taking a walk or bike ride with his parents and sister, staying up a bit later on a Thursday evening as a weekly special treat (!) to clap the NHS and key workers – are all worthy activities but only partially compensate for what is being missed. Also, as we all know, it can be very difficult for parents to keep children occupied and happy for long periods at home, especially when the age-gap between the siblings is significant: 

“I’m always very relieved when Dan’s shift pattern (he is an ‘essential worker’ as a train engineer) means that he’s here at home to help out with with the children!” says mum Lauren.  

With this in mind, I decided to supplement William’s current activities (including schoolwork) by setting him my own daily quizzes on Maths, Science, Geography, History and of course Sport with financial rewards attached for getting the right answers. I can happily report that William has already amassed enough prize money for him to spend as he wishes after lockdown ends. “ I think I’ll either get an England shirt or a new Stoke City strip”, he tells me.

This brings us back nicely to the Stoke City song I mentioned at the start because although the 2019/20 Championship season is currently on hold, William and I are regularly in contact with fellow season ticket holder Kate Murphy who sits next to us at each home match. Kate is of course the Coordinator of the Boys in Mind team and knowing how keen a Stoke supporter young William is, she asked William and me if we would be prepared to record a short video about how much he misses his ‘fix’ of football (amongst other things) and how he is managing to cope! That video clip has now been added to the BiM collection of short films about Getting through this together and it was also the subject of an interview with us both which was broadcast by Radio Stoke recently. As you can imagine, William was just thrilled to have that exciting experience.

So let’s join William in raising the anthem “We’ll be with you” loud and strong, both in spirit and in deed!

John Brough (‘Grandad’)


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