AYRESOME Park was the last place 88-year-old Middlesbrough FC fan John Hobday saw his favourite team play – until one his carers got lucky on a raffle.
The resident of The Beeches Care Home, Green Lane, Stockton-on-Tees, hasn’t seen The Boro live and in person since the 1980s.
He started attending games during the 1960s with his friends, when they would sometimes sneak into the ground because they couldn’t afford tickets.
More than 40 years since his last game, John received a pair of tickets from care home assistant practitioner at The Beeches, Simone Weighell, who had won them in a raffle.
Having heard John had never seen The Boro at the Riverside, Simone wanted to treat him to a match, which he attended with activities coordinator Thomas Knight.
John donned his Middlesbrough FC home shirt for the occasion, having received one from an anonymous gift-giver to the local Dunelm store’s Christmas Wish List campaign.
On the day of the match, Middlesbrough FC v Ipswich Town, John was “excited from the moment we left”, according to Thomas.
He said: “Once we arrived, John was amazed by the size of the stadium. Outside the ground, he was talking to the away fans and they were exchanging predictions of the upcoming game. They were really friendly but John was certain to remind them of how Middlesbrough were going to win.”
After entering the stadium for kick-off, John proclaimed: “This is a big difference to Ayresome Park.” Inside he met former Boro player and now commentator Neil Maddison, who talked to John about the upcoming match.
Unfortunately, the score ended 2-0 to Ipswich. John said: “I’ve had an amazing day but I could have ran more than some of the players today. Next time I’ll bring my boots with me.”
On returning to The Beeches Care Home, John recalled his favourite football memory: “When England beat Germany in the World Cup final in 1966”.
Thomas added: “It was a really nice day out for John, despite the cold. He says he’d love to get a season ticket for next season, so hopefully he’ll be able to go to another Boro match very soon.”