Saturday, November 03, 2007

Last week Nick Randall a 42 year old father of three that I’ve never met died of natural causes at the Bristol City match against Stoke, it cast a heavy cloud over what was another good performance from the reds. The subject of his death has cropped up a lot on the forums that are populated by City fans. His wife has taken to writing on the otib.co.uk forum to say how moved she has be been by the kinds words about her partner, thankfully the club appear to be doing all they can to help her and her sons through what must be an appalling time.

From what I’ve read the response from fans of Bristol Rovers and City’s opponents at Wolverhampton today has been fantastic as well. On Tuesday evening City play their 1st home game since the tragic events of last Saturday and Nick’s passing is going to be marked before the game, in what is bound to be an emotional evening for his family, friends and all of those that are at the match.

So why does his passing touch so many people in such a way? We hear of people dying everyday on the news and yet the fact that he went to watch the same team as me and thousands of other people brings it that much closer to home. The Hillsborough disaster was the first time I remember being really affected by the death of people that I didn’t know, although City never played in front of the sort of crowds that caused that sort of incident, I’d been to many games of football where way too many people were crammed into too small a space. I think the realisation hit me that it didn’t matter that I was able to avoid the hooligans who tarnished the name of us football fans for so long, I could still go to match and never come home again.

That’s what happened to Nick Randall last week, from what I understand at least one of his kids was at the game with him. How do you get over something like that? Imagine knowing that around 15,000 people had been there when your dad died and no one could stop it happening (although the medical staff and stewards at the ground did absolutely all they could for him). At least we as football fans can show that even though we are often dismissed as thugs and hooligans we do have a human side and we know that football is a unifying factor not a divisive one. I know that a tear or two will roll down my check, but I hope to be proud to be part of a community, which shows that we care for the well being of not just our friends but everyone that shares the enjoyment that the game can bring us.

On a similar theme, tonight we went to the film “And when did your last see your father”. This account of Blake Morrison’s fractious relationship with his dying father was beautifully observed and once again had me complaining about the leaky nature of cinema ceilings in Bristol, even if it wasn’t raining! The crowd in the cinema were, shall we say mature and Orynthia pointed out to me that I might have been one of the few people there whose father was still alive. I hope that he stays with us for many more years.

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