There once was a small boy. A small boy with one of the cheekiest smiles, you ever did see. A boy who’s only concerns in a cruel, unsympathetic world was his beloved Sunderland Football Club. The young boy in question, was a lad by the name of Bradley Lowery.

Bradley was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer, when he was just 18 months old. It affects approximately just 100 young people a year. Bradley was in remission, but his condition deteriorated rapidly last year.

The highlight of this absolutely heartbreaking tale has been Bradley’s well documented friendship with Sunderland striker Jermaine Defoe. Bradley was invited to be the club’s mascot on more than one occasion, which resulted in him forming a touching bond with the England international. Bradley went on to become a mascot for England, and made appearances at numerous Premier League matches.


He was just a young lad, who loved his footy. Something so many of us have been over the years. When I was a kid I used to be Wayne Rooney, in my 2003/2004 Everton strip, playing in makeshift nets at the bottom of my street. In 2003 I was ten years old. I can’t comprehend being 6 years age and battling for my life. But boy did he battle.

Bradley’s plight has captured the collective heart of football fans up and down the country. There are many rivalries, and squabbles, in the name of football. However these are always set aside in times of tragedy. Football clubs, and supporters, across the land have in some capacity attempted to raise funds for a 6-year-old kid in the North East of England, to have life saving treatment. Incredible.


Alas, it was in vain. Today, on the 07/07/2017, little Bradley lost his battle. At 6 years of age he, as his mum described, “went with the angels”. But Bradley himself was an angel. The pain he endured, the struggle, yet he always had that cheeky grin on his face.

The word “inspirational” is banded about far too much. It’s a phrase that’s often thrown off the tip of a tongue, with no real substance at times. But Bradley Lowery elevated the word “inspirational” to who a whole new dynamic. At 23 years of age, I think I have problems. Many of us do. But Bradley’s story belittles me when I reflect.

He didn’t get the life that was intended for him. But he had a smile. A beautiful little boy, blissfully ignorant of the misfortune that attempted to break him.

Thank you Bradley, for showing us the importance of smiling. That smile brought people together, and advertised the importance of positivity during the bad times. The light has been gently dimmed for now, but I hope wherever you are, you’re playing up top. You’ve got those Goal of The Month awards to live up to kid.

You brave, brave little lad.

Up the Mackems x


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