West Ham United fan Iris, 86, recovers from coronavirus and receives a phone call from manager David Moyes
Loyal West Ham United fan Iris Burroughs drew on all her reserves of traditional East End resilience and courage to overcome coronavirus (COVID-19).
The 86-year-old from Beckton has supported the Hammers for more than seven decades, is an enthusiastic member of the Any Old Irons supporters’ group and even dated West Ham winger Harry Hooper as a teenager in the early 1950s!
Like so many elderly fans, the coronavirus pandemic left her feeling anxious – a feeling that only grew when she tested positive for the respiratory illness that has taken nearly 20,000 lives in the UK.
Thankfully, Iris was able to beat the disease and is now recovering at home, where she received a surprise phone call from Irons manager David Moyes, who wished her well and invited her to be his guest at London Stadium when football returns.
“The manager was very nice and phoned me because he knew I had the virus so he wanted to check on me,” said Iris, who has also kept her spirits up by joining the Any Old Irons Facebook group.
“He was asking about me and how I was, more than anything else, and how I was coping. He said I must be strong to get over it. He also said: ‘I have a surprise for you’ – when the games are up and running as normal again, I’m going to be picked up, taken to a match and then driven home again. I was overwhelmed, to be honest, I didn’t know what to say! It’s going to be very exciting.
“I love singing so we also spoke about the choir as part of the Any Old Irons – it was a wonderful gesture and it means a lot that everyone is thinking of me. It means a lot what the Foundation and Club have done for me.”
The manager, who has himself been delivering fruit and vegetables to families living in his home village in Lancashire, was inspired by Iris’s positive attitude.
“Iris was great, just full of life,” said Moyes. “She talked about the support she has been getting from the club, phoning her and sending letters to keep her up to date. She says she’s feeling fine now, which is marvellous because, from what we know, this dreadful virus can be serious for the elderly.
“It’s massively important that at this vulnerable time for so many people clubs such as ours play their part. Football has been under the spotlight and clubs such as ours have a big responsibility in the community. They have done a lot of good things behind the scenes. A lot of people have helped local projects.
“If you can’t get out of the house, it’s important to have someone communicate with you. Just ten minutes on the phone can help change how you feel. Iris said she would love to come down and meet the players and myself and we will bring her in before a game, whenever that is.”