Bradley Lowery’s Goal

Carol Ann Wood
Friday 16 December 2016

Bradley Lowery
C/o Sunderland AFC
Stadium Of Light

Sunderland 0-1 Chelsea
(But, also: Sunderland 1-0 Chelsea Goalscorer for Sunderland Bradley Lowery)

Dear Bradley,

I have never met you, but during the last week, I got to hear all about you. I learnt about your story via some Chelsea friends, and also John Terry, who posted it on social media. You are five years old and you have a horrible illness. The treatment for this illness has made you very tired and poorly. You are crazy about Sunderland, and it was your dream to score a goal for them.
I understand all about being crazy for your football team. I feel the same about Chelsea, and have done ever since I was a little girl. (Which was a very long time ago!) Despite your horrible illness, you have grown to live and breathe every moment of every game, and to feel that you are kicking every ball with your team. Like all football fans, you will feel sad when they lose, and happy when they win. You love wearing your team’s replica shirt, and you love shouting and cheering in the crowd.

I couldn’t go the the Sunderland versus Chelsea game on Wednesday, Bradley. I live in the city of Cambridge, over 200 miles from the Stadium Of Light, and it would have been impossible to get back home again on the same night. But many of my Chelsea friends were there. They are talking about the banner that some of them made especially for you and your family. They are talking about how everyone sang your name on five minutes. They are talking about your special moment when you stepped up and scored a goal against Asmir Begović. He dived for the ball, but he dived the wrong way, so it was a well-taken penalty. I think you fooled him there! I saw the footage of you as a mascot, leading your team out, and I saw Diego Costa paying you special attention before kick-off. He looks like a fierce man when he’s playing, but as I’m sure you and your family will have seen, he is really a very kind man. There are a lot of kind people in football, and Wednesday night brought that home to supporters everywhere.

You won’t know how much good you have already done for the football community in your short life. You have touched more people’s lives than even your family will be able to take in right now, as they take care of you and try to make your Christmas really magical. The most important thing that you have done is to remind a lot of grown-up people that football is a game. We all love that game, and we all want our teams to be champions. But it’s a game and sometimes we don’t win. It’s not as important as being well, and having people in our lives who love us.

I get in a bad mood sometimes when Chelsea lose. I go about in a grump, and blame the referee if we don’t get decisions awarded. I often blame a particular player for missing a chance, or an opposition player, for committing a bad foul and getting away with it. But after I’ve calmed down, I start to look forward to the next game. On Wednesday night, you were the perfect example to grown men and women who often come out of stadiums saying lots of bad words. Some of them even wish horrible things to happen to the players they are angry with. That’s not nice at all, is it. All clubs have those sort of supporters, who don’t think carefully about what they are saying when their team have lost. I hope that now, they will do so. The world of football has seen you, one brave little boy, smiling through your horrible illness, showing your pure delight at your special evening. Okay, so we know that really, Chelsea won that game 1-0. I know you’ll understand that I am happy about our result. But really, you were the winner on Wednesday, Bradley. You won people’s hearts, and I hope, their minds. I hope that by your family and Sunderland AFC telling your story, you have reminded people of what’s important. Well done Bradley, you are a star, and on Wednesday night, you scored a winning goal that all of Sunderland and the wider football world will never forget.

Much love,
Carol Ann Wood

PS When I was a little girl, Sunderland won an FA Cup Final against Leeds, of which I am sure your family have lots of memories. But I think your goal was even more important than that winner a long time ago.

PPS A lot of my Chelsea friends have said that if they have a bad day at the football or at work, they will try much harder not to grumble about it, and that they will think of how brave you are instead. I will do the same.

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