‘We were up there bricking it!’ – The two inspirational Man City fans picked for Premier League trophy honour
Olivia Wilkinson spoke for about 50,000 people inside the Etihad when she spoke of the mood as Manchester City threatened to blow the Premier League title on the final day. “We were up there bricking it, absolutely bricking it,” the lifelong fan said. “A lot of tears were shed from us,” adds Ben Mason, a Blue from Jersey.
If nothing else, it shows how wonderfully ridiculous football can be that two young people who are going through so much in their lives can be so affected by 22 men kicking a ball about. Ben and Olivia shared the same incredible experience as millions watching as they saw Pep Guardiola’s side score three goals in six second-half minutes to beat Aston Villa and win the league in unbelievable fashion. Ten years on from 93:20, City produced another ridiculous victory from the jaws of a painful defeat.
The two City fans did not see the third goal go in, however, precisely because they were at the ground on Sunday to do something nobody else there was. The pair ended up “screaming in the stairwell” celebrating Ilkay Gundogan’s second as they made their way down to the tunnel ready to present the trophy to Guardiola and his players.
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Olivia, 22 from Rochdale, volunteers as a mentor for City in the Community’s (CITC) group City Careers – a programme to help young people to find sustainable employment. She has not let a battle with cancer – and, most recently, an operation on a collapsed lung – stop her putting as much effort as she can into helping others.
Ben, 16, from Jersey, lost his 14-year-old sister Kezia to suicide two months ago. As well as coping with the trauma of losing his sister and continuing work for his GCSE exams, Ben decided to raise money for mental health awareness charities in memory of his sister and has already raised more than £100,000.
Both supporters hail from Blue families and watch the team wherever they can, and CITC – wanting to show a little appreciation for their bravery shown in the face of difficult individual circumstances – decided that they would be perfect choices to help the players celebrate the title win if they could get over the line against Aston Villa. And, after a nervy 70 minutes where the ‘if’ got bigger and bigger, it all came together.
Olivia carried the trophy out to the pitch, standing metres from a delirious Guardiola jumping up and down with delight. Ben then handed over the trophy to the ecstatic players, including club captain Fernandinho who departs this summer after nine years of incredible service.
“Today means absolutely everything,” said Olivia as she stood on the pitch as players milled by her celebrating with their friends and families long after the rest of the stadium had gone home.
“I never thought I’d be able to do this, after everything that has happened in the last year it is just relief and absolutely amazing.”
Ben added: “It was honestly mind-blowing, the best day of my life by a good mile. It’s insane and it means so much to me and my family. It just shows how amazing this football club is that it can do this for people.”
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