Football, that all encompassing, unavoidable sport loved by idiots and intellectuals alike, a cross continental marvel, media cash-cow, a platform of athletic prowess where some protein shake fuelled metro-sexuals prance about chasing down that bag o’ wind for an hour and half whilst we sup our ales down the Nags’ or freeze our knackers off in the stands. A sport loved by all, but to quote spouses and partners nationwide, apologetically trying to lift you out of the latest slump “Its just a game“.
There are moments in football that prove it is so much more than just a game though; sobering moments. None more sobering than what happened on 3rd May, the final day of the season at the King Power Stadium, Leicester – and i’m not talking about Doncaster Rovers relegation.
As thousands of Rovers’ fans were willing the Vikings to get back into the game, anxiously keeping their eyes on the Birmingham score, one fan Ray Dunning, was receiving CPR at the ground following a suspected aneurysm. Unfortunately Ray didn’t make it home from that game, a tragic loss at only 42.
Naturally the players, staff and fellow supporters paid their condolences through social media and the response from both the Leicester fans, the wider footballing community and our own Vikings was phenomenal – his wife paid testament to the overwhelming response online.
But what happened after this started something remarkable, something rarely seen amongst football supporters these days – an alliance, all united in sharing their love of football, united in the shared tragedies and a sort of community spirit (as a similar and equally as harrowing incident happened at the stadium to Foxes fan Roger Evans a month before; he suffered a heart attack and passed away before a home match against Brighton).
What felt, at first, like a brief exchange of niceties and a shared condolence escalated into something far beyond that, friendships began being formed – an alliance page appeared on facebook and gained members fast!! Together they produced wrist-bands for sale – all proceeds going to charity, scarves and flowers were laid at the Keepmoat from both sets of fans, and now – long after the dust has settled, they are still making waves to bring supporters together in aid of the memory of our fallen supporters.
They have formed alliance Sunday League teams and are in the process of arranging a charity match against each other, as well as various other fundraising events. More than anything it instills a faith in humanity, an idea that beyond just the football and the shouting and the results and the resentment… we’re all fans, all humans, and if we could all work together for once we might achieve something special.
There is a Ray Dunning Scholarship Charity Night on Friday 4th July at the Central Club in Stainforth, starting at 7:30pm, tickets are £7.50 and it includes tribute bands, a disco, meet the stig, raffle and all them other funny japes that come with social club drinking!!
Keep up the good work Doncaster Rovers / Leicester City Alliance, you have our full support!