This was the poignant moment that 90-year-old dementia sufferer Frank Coulson fulfilled a lifetime ambition – to score in front of the Kop at Bramall Lane.
The Sheffield United supporter was given the chance to live his dream at half-time of Saturday’s victory over Wigan at Bramall Lane, receiving an ovation from the crowd as he netted in front of the Kop where he first began watching the Blades around 80 years ago.
Frank’s home, at the Norwood Grange dementia care home in Longley, is decorated with Blades scarves he has collected over the years and his moment in the limelight came about because of the care home’s ‘make a wish’ scheme, where residents hang their wish on a tree and, each month, staff attempt to make them come true.
“Frank’s wish was to play football for Sheffield United,” Gary Sinclair, United’s matchday announcer who welcomed Frank onto the Bramall Lane turf, said.
“Well, we can’t quite make a case for him to replace Mark Duffy or John Fleck in our midfield right now, but what we could do is give young Frank the opportunity to pull on the famous red and white Blades shirt and...create a wonderful memory and score a goal in front of the Kop.”
Frank was led out by Tony Currie, United club director and greatest ever player – even if the 90-year-old believes that his hero Jimmy Hagan was, and always will be, the greatest player to pull on the red and white stripes, with a special mention for Currie and Alan Woodward.
“Frank began coming to Bramall Lane with his pals as a young lad, around 80 years ago,” Sinclair added, “and he has continued to go to all home games with them until a few years ago, when dementia unfortunately got the better of him.
“But he still came along with his daughter Jennifer, and Frank told us this week that he remembers that he and his pals all used to meet at the ground really early, so that they could get the best spot at the front of the Kop. Like many fans, he says they had the same spot each time and Frank says the best thing about being a Blade is the ‘Community feeling’ – ‘the fans’ - as he met the same people week in week out who became very good pals over the years.
“He didn't buy many football shirts as money was always tight and having enough money go to the game was more important than a shirt, he says, although he always had a scarf.”
Frank's granddaughter Maxine Dawson tweeted: “Thank you to all at Bramall Lane for making my granddad Frank Coulson's wish come true, he's 90 year old and got to go on the pitch today at half time with Tony Currie for a kick about and my grandad actually scored a goal, thank you to all involved, a great memory made.”