A DISABLED Rangers fan who attended the recent match against Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park with his young son has praised the host club and their supporters for “a great day out.”
Alan Graham, who comes from County Down in Northern Ireland, was one of the thousands of fans who made the journey to Shielfield for the first-ever league fixture between the two sides. It was the first Rangers match Matthew, his seven-year-old son, had ever been to.
Alan was so pleased with the way he and his son were treated that he has written a letter to the ‘Berwick Advertiser,’ thanking Berwick and their fans for their kindness. He also posted the letter on Facebook, and within a couple of days received over 600 likes.
“It was a great day out,” he said. “With all the turmoil surrounding our own club there is not a lot of good news around at the moment, but this really showed football in a good light.”
In his letter Alan, who is a leg amputee, wrote: “On arriving at Shielfield I was somewhat dismayed to see where the away fans would be accommodated.
“I had my seven-year-old boy at his first Rangers game, but I realised there would be nowhere I could stand and he could also see the game.
“I mentioned this to a steward, expecting the usual ‘nothing we can do’ response, but not on this occasion.
“He told me to wait and he would sort something out. He came back with a suited club official who said ‘follow me’ and walked us around to the home stand, got us two seats together on the front row, near enough the halfway line. Perfect seats in every respect.
“I explained it was Matthew’s first game and he left us a few minutes before coming back with the actual team-sheet as a keep-sake. A free programme was also provided later by some kind fans.
“The entire length of the game we cheered our team and even after we scored, not a bad word was heard. It was the same when the home team equalised, deservedly so I might add.
“The boy was a little perturbed when we first went into the home stand, but I assured him he would be fine and I was absolutely right. A thoroughly pleasant afternoon was had, if not quite the result we wanted!
“But because of the hospitality we received he wasn’t disappointed at all, in fact he said the Berwick folk were so nice it was right we shared the points with them!”
As a result of their experience, Matthew has now declared Berwick Rangers his ‘second team.’ “It was a long way to go,” said Alan. “We caught the ferry from Belfast and got on a supporters’ bus in Glasgow, but the police and the hospitality of the Berwick officials and fans was excellent.
“As soon as we arrived the police said they were only there to observe and they wanted us to enjoy our visit, which we did.”
The game, shown live by ESPN TV, ended 1-1 with Berwick substitute Fraser McLaren scoring a second-half equaliser to cancel out a goal by Andrew Little with the very last kick at the end of the first half.
The game was watched by an all-ticket capacity crowd of 4,140 and the day went off without incident.
A total of 150 officers were called in to police the game, but the home and away support all behaved themselves both in the stadium and around the town.
Several of the pubs in Berwick opened their doors to welcome busloads of Rangers fans in, some of whom watched the game on television.
“It really was a brilliant day,” said Alan.“The weather was good. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and whilst we were naturally disappointed with the result, Berwick got a deserved draw, even if they were denied a potential late winner. We had a great time and a big thank you goes out from myself and Matthew.
“As he has now adopted Berwick as his other club it means Berwick have seen their fan base grow across the Irish Sea.”