SANTA’S SQUAD IS RIGHT ONSIDE
THE EFL’s Elves dug deep into their own pockets to spread seasonal joy around the country’s children’s wards as Christmas came for some who needed cheering up.
Players and management took time out this week to raise some smiles when they dished out gifts and goodies for poorly girls and boys who may not be home in time for the big day.
Worthing Hospital’s Bluefin Ward welcomed Brighton & Hove Albion’s Premier League-chasing players and boss Chris Hughton – not forgetting the club’s mascot, Sammy the Seagull.
Albion goalkeeper David Stockdale put his safe hands to even better use as he made sure none of the children went without.
He believes it’s part of a footballer’s job to ensure young fans get a special afternoon with their favourites.
He said: “It’s very important because those in children’s wards may not go home for Christmas. Everything we can do, we must.
“For us to make a visit and give them some presents is a massive thing to these kids and their parents. It also shows the support we’ve got in the community and we all need to give something back. “Above everything, it is nice
to put some smiles on their little faces.” Brighton, who went top onTuesday night for 24 hours after they squeezed past Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, were not the only club to go along and say hello. AFC Wimbledon players opened their wallets before descending on nearby St George’s Hospital in South London. The League One club’s stars paid for the presents they handed out – and even wrapped them themselves! Dons manager Neal Ardley said: “Every single present was paid for by the players and we gave out more than 100 gifts, but it was just fantastic to meet so many young football fans.”
Mansfield Town’s players also chipped in to cheer youngsters in the town’s King’s Mill Hospital with presents and chocolate, while Ipswich went a stage further.
They visited a hospital or a hospice on each day last week. No fewer than six visits. Manager Mick McCarthy said: “It’s a humbling experience that has become something of a football tradition. “Our lads are great with the work they do in the community and they all enjoy getting involved.”
SANTA’S STAFF: Brighton players at Worthing Hospital and inset, AFC Wimbledon at St George’s
NO KIDDIN: Ipswich and Mansfield players join the festive fun