Loyal Plymouth Argyle supporters Claire Mitchell and Andy Williams have barely missed a match, home or away this season, and made the trip up to the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday April 13 from their home in Essex to watch the team play Doncaster Rovers, along with seven year-old son Joe.
Joe is a very special little boy. Born prematurely and living with a host of health problems and multiple hospital visits, Claire and Andy find respite in their busy lives following Argyle and taking Joe on the road as they travel up and down the country. Joe has short gut syndrome and is fed intravenously via a line in his heart.
Doncaster Rovers fan Derek Daniels had brought Joe and his family to the clubs attention after finding out they were making the journey north for the match. Before kick-off, and whilst both squads were warming up on the pitch, Derek met Claire, Andy and Joe and introduced them all to club staff who then invited Joe to watch the warm up from the away dugout.
After enjoying a kick about with Club Doncaster Foundation staff in the away family area, Joe got to know Erik the Viking and patiently waited for Donny Dog to visit. It was evident that the Pilgrims knew Joe and his family well, with smiles and hellos for everyone. Strength and conditioning coach Ollie Osbourne had a present for Joe - he had saved him the resistance band that his favourite player, keeper Kyle Letheren had used to train with that week.
A delighted Joe then got to meet our very own Rovers mascot, Donny Dog who gave Joe a Donny Dog soft toy and enjoyed a chat and a hug with his new friend. After showing us all his own resistance training skills with his new band, Joe then took his seats with mum and dad back in the North stand just in time for kickoff.
Sharing the families experience at Rovers on their own Facebook page, Joe's PAFC Journey - fans of both sides commented with Pilgrims fan Gary McPheat saying: “That is awesome. Well done to Doncaster” and Rovers fan Joanne Frost commenting: “Proud to be a DRFC Fan”
Marketing Manager for Doncaster Rovers, Mark Hughesman said: “When Derek told us that Joe and his parents were visiting us for the match, it was only natural that we wanted to say hello and introduce him to Donny Dog. It’s great that he got to enjoy the away stand family area as well as meet his PAFC favourites in the dugout here at the Keepmoat. Joe is an absolute credit to Andy and Claire and we wish them all the very best of health in the future”.