It’s been a tough season for Bristol City, relatively speaking. The League One team is in a relegation scrap, having won just seven of 34 matches, and spirits aren’t exactly high in those trying times.
But the Robins knew there was nothing to complain about as they were given a speech prior to Saturday’s match against Gillingham. That’s because the man giving the talk was a supporter… a supporter than did not expect to be alive for Bristol City’s next match.
Mark Saunders, 54, is suffering from lung cancer and is considered a terminal patient. He loves his Robins and was invited by the team to speak to them. He made quite an impact, according to Bristol City manager Steve Cotterill:
“We were quite choked in the dressing room,” Cotterill told the club website.
“He wanted to have a little chat with the players as he didn’t feel as though he was going to see next Friday out, which puts football into a bit of perspective.
“It was tough to listen to him, it’s quite emotional just thinking about it, but hopefully we’ve given him a good weekend.”
The Robins went on to win the match 2-0, which boosted them out of the relegation zone on goal differential. So what did he say before the match? This is from Saunders’ brother Bill:
“Mark spoke to them about the fact he’d been a follower for 30 years and how they fought together as fans. But he said the players hadn’t been fighting together this season and hadn’t been playing as a team.
“He also said it was his dying wish to see them win three points.
“At the end, the players all stood up and clapped. He was delighted – it was a wonderful day.”
Without looking for laughs, I’d imagine it’s hard not to be inspired by someone who says you doing your job better than another guy for 90 minutes is his dying wish.
What a sport. What a world.