Loyal fan Graham granted ticket wish

West Ham United will welcome loyal supporter Graham White to celebrate his birthday at the Club’s last-ever fixture at the Boleyn Ground
West Ham United will welcome loyal supporter Graham White to celebrate his birthday at the Club’s last-ever fixture at the Boleyn Ground.

Graham, from Canvey Island in Essex, was forced to give up his Season Ticket after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease – a rare life-shortening condition that causes progressive damage to parts of the nervous system – two years ago.

The grandfather applied to attend the Barclays Premier League visit of Manchester United on Tuesday 10 May through a Members’ Ballot, but was unfortunately unsuccessful.

With his condition potentially preventing Graham from attending matches in future seasons, his family began a campaign last week to enable him to bid the Boleyn Ground a personal farewell.

Sue Nash, chairman of South Essex Motor Neurone Disease, posted an appeal on Facebook on Friday which was shared more than 11,000 times, while others tweeted Joint-Chairman David Gold, Vice-Chairman Karren Brady and David Sullivan’s sons Jack and Dave.

On Monday, all four contacted the Ticket Office and arrangements were quickly made through the Hammers accessibility liaison officier Julie Pidgeon and Graham’s wife Pat to enable the birthday boy and one of his grandsons to attend the match.

“It’s absolutely brilliant,” said Nash. “We are so grateful to West Ham. It went crazy. In the first 15 minutes we had 50 shares. We had no idea that it would go like this.

“People were saying they would carry him if they had to.”

In a joint statement, Mr Sullivan, Mr Gold and Baroness Brady said it was fitting that a loyal fan would be celebrating what would potentially be his last live match at somewhere he truly loved being alongside his fellow Hammers.

“Everyone at the club has been moved by Graham’s loyal support for West Ham United, and the love shown by his family and friends in contacting us,” they said.

“Since being made aware of Graham’s wish to attend the final game at the Boleyn Ground, we all personally made contact with the Ticket Office to ensure he could attend the game.

“The board are now looking forward to welcoming Graham and his grandson to the Boleyn Ground for the club’s historic final match against Manchester United.”

Nash, of Leigh-on-Sea, said people had offered to give up their tickets, but the seat needed to have disabled access because Graham is completely reliant on his wheelchair.

She continued: “For people to do that is just so heart-warming. Graham is a quiet and shy man. He’s absolutely blown away.

“At the weekend he could not believe that at that stage 10,000 people had taken the time to do that for him. I have had a thousand personal messages as well.

“It’s given him such a lift that people actually care.”

Nash said the campaign had started after their 17-year-old grandsons, James and Nicholas, offered to take their granddad to the game if they could get a ticket.

“It’s just absolutely phenomenal. It’s overwhelming actually. We have had messages where we have laughed and other ones that have just been so overwhelming.

“We can’t thank the public enough for getting in touch and taking such an interest.”