Footy-mad Charlie gets to see grandpa’s team

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SPORT can sometimes tug at the heartstrings, and a Jersey family had a particularly emotional day at the football after making a 1,200-mile round trip to Scotland.

The pilgrimage by Alana Slater, her partner, Tony McAllister, and the couple’s four-year-old son, Charlie, was to honour the memory of Alana’s father, John Slater, who died aged 68 last December.

Mr Slater was a long-standing supporter of Edinburgh club Hibernian, but died before he was able to fulfil his wish to take his equally footy-mad grandson to a game at Easter Road in Leith, the home of Hibs.

In the months after her father’s death, Miss Slater began to plan a possible trip from their home in Jersey to take Charlie to see a game.

She said: ‘The game was so important to me, especially as it would make my dad the proudest man on earth to take his adored grandson to his first Hibs game, and of course it just had to be the Edinburgh derby [between Hibs and their local rivals Hearts].

‘My dad cherished Charlie up until the day he died. He spent 3½ years with the little guy before he sadly passed back in December, and before that he brought me up to be a “Hibee” from the day I was born.’

The trip was not a straightforward one to plan, not least because Easter Road was a 20,000 sell-out for the big match, but tickets were obtained after an appeal on Facebook.

Not only did a fellow supporter named Dale McGrath offer up three seats in the front row of the ‘Famous Five’ stand, but she made up a hamper of goods to help the family enjoy their day.

Fortunately the match-day weather featured ‘Sunshine on Leith’, in line with the Proclaimers’ ballad that is a Hibs anthem, and to crown the occasion Kevin Nisbet struck a 67th-minute goal to secure a 1-0 victory for the home side.

Miss Slater added: ‘We had a blast. Charlie was so excited and he wanted his pictures taken non-stop. We even managed to get a picture with my dad’s favourite player as he was leaving the stadium.

‘The win just topped it all off, as we hadn’t won a derby game since 2019 and the atmosphere was out of this world – I had tears in my eyes, both from happiness at seeing Charlie and sadness that we couldn’t celebrate the win with dad.’

A few tears were shed by the family as they left the ground, and Miss Slater said she was sure her father would also have been a bit moist around the eyes.

‘I think he would have struggled for words – he was a massive softy at heart and he most definitely would not have been able to hold back the tears,’ she said.

Mr Slater has had long-standing links with Jersey, having met his second wife, Sandy, during a trip to the Island in 1979. The couple subsequently lived in Jersey for several years, when Mr Slater worked as a window cleaner.

Miss Slater shared the story on social media via her TikTok page lifeofcharlieandmummy.

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