Mick Brown has been a Crawley Town fan for more than 55 years.
His beloved club has given him countless great memories on the pitch, and are now providing comfort and joy off it, during what is undoubtedly a difficult time for elderly football fans.
After joining the Crawley Town Community Foundation's walking football programme, he later discovered the EFL's Extra Time Hubs, which aim to combat loneliness and inactivity in retired and semi-retired people.
We caught up with him last week, to hear his heartwarming story.
“It all started two or three years ago when I started doing walking football," he said. "After a while, we were told about the Hubs and a lot of us expressed an interest. As well as the walking football, we had a whole range of other activities going on.
"It’s done wonders for me; it gave me a reason to go out at a time when I didn’t want to go out at all. When lockdown started, we set up Zoom meetings and that happens twice a week now, and for me it’s one of the highlights of my week. The only thing I can say, both to Crawley and the EFL, is thank you. It’s given me a focus.
“It would be a very, very sad day if community work is lost to the virus. The club do far more than just the things I’m involved in and, if I’ve got a problem or an issue, I know I’ve got people at the Hubs to talk to. They can help me and give me advice. Lockdown has certainly hit me hard, but this gives me a focus and I’m just looking forward to the next Zoom meeting on Tuesday."
Mick is one of millions of fans across the country unable to physically attend live football matches under current restrictions. Following the success of pilot events in the EFL, he says he would jump at the chance to get back to his old seat and watch Crawley once again.
“I’m missing going to watch Crawley, I’ve been a fan for 57 years and we have a more than decent side this year," he added.
"I would go back to the ground if given the opportunity, without a doubt. You can’t replicate that matchday feeling. I just hope I can go back to watching my club as soon as possible and be able to meet up with people again."