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Football is important…..

We often recite those famous words from William (‘Bill’) Shankly OBE 1913-1981 “Football’s not a matter of life or death. It’s much more important than that.” Well I thought that quote might lead in to a particularly heart-moving story from this weekend’s fixtures in junior football in Stockport.

From my perspective I posted last week on Facebook: “Feel genuinely ‘numb’ when have learned that a girl, with lovely boys, passed away today. Cannot claim to have been a close Friend, she was a former neighbour – but lovely, genuine person, who I always chatted with and smiled to. Life can be so cruel taking away a young mother when her whole life should have been ahead of her 😦 RIP x”.

This serves in to a much more important reflection, that which recounts, the braveness and heroics of the deceased, Dawn Shepherd’s Son, Cameron.  The article kindly repeated courtesy of Author, Gary Howard.

“What a gorgeous story about the very brave Cameron from his football game on Saturday..

Lisa Shepherd (Dawn’s Sister) – My Gary writes a match report after every football match and I thought you might like to read this about how wonderfully brave Cameron was today. X

“Dad, should I ask Cameron if he’d like to be captain today?”. And so the tone for the day was set, as I wiped the first of many a tear away from my eye and told Corey that, yes, that would be a lovely gesture.

After the devastating news filtered through on Thursday that Cameron’s much loved mum, Dawn, had sadly lost her brave battle with Cancer and passed away at such a stupidly young age, today was a day that I didn’t think would ever happen. Upon hearing the news, we obviously made arrangements to postpone the game. Our opponents, Cheadle and Gatley Hurricanes, couldn’t have been more accommodating and were fully prepared to cancel at a minute’s notice. If they ever get to read this, thank you.

Cameron, however, had other ideas. He got in touch late on Thursday evening via his Grandad, Brian, to say that he wanted the game to go ahead. Quite how Cam and Brian found the courage to even think about football on such a tragic day is beyond my comprehension. What’s more, however, Cam said that he wanted to play in the game in order to ‘make his mum proud’. She always was, Cam. She always was.

And so, with Cam’s wishes, the league cup game went ahead. To say it was an emotional roller-coaster would be somewhat of an understatement!

We could talk about lots of things. A last minute chance from James that went begging with the game finely (I mean frantically) poised at 2-2. Brandon’s last second winner to give us a 3-2 victory. Dan’s hop, skip and jump celebration that saw him destroy the ref’s brand new linesman’s flag. Harry running the length of the field from his goal to join in the match-winning celebration. Or Ollie Rab obtaining the dubious recognition of being our first ever player to get sent off. We could talk about all of this. But it wouldn’t mean a thing.

For today was about one brave little boy, his brave Grandad for coming along as always to support, and his brave, brave mum, who will sadly no longer see what an amazing human being her son will grow up to be.

As is so often the case in these horrendous circumstances, something happens that you just couldn’t script. And so it was, just 3 minutes into the game that Cameron himself scored to give us an early lead. As he celebrated by pointing his hands to the sky before being mobbed by his team-mates, the tissues came out on the sidelines for the first of many, many times. I’ve never seen so many grown men with ‘something in their eye’ as the whole crowd seemed to pause for a moment to grasp the emotion of what had just happened.

The next 5 minutes were a bit of a blur for everyone I suspect, players and supporters alike. So it wasn’t really surprising that Cheadle & Gatley managed to equalise after 8 minutes. To be fair, they fully deserved to be level. They matched us in nearly every area of the park, with their coach commenting how it was without doubt the best he’d ever seen his team play. Some day for them to choose that performance eh?!

2-1 down at half-time wasn’t what we were hoping for. A few strategic changes here and there, with Matty coming on to rekindle his lost love affair with defence, thankfully provided the catalyst for an improved performance in the 2nd half.

I could tell you who got our equaliser, but Hollywood scriptwriters would suggest I’m being far-fetched! But it was indeed the man of the day, Cam, who scored with just 5 minutes remaining. 4 minutes and 30 seconds later, he also played a ball through to Brandon, who found himself running through on goal with just the keeper to beat.

Time seemed to come to a stop at this point. I’ve played it back in my mind for the last few hours and, what must’ve been a 5 second process in real-life, has somehow become played out in slow-motion to take an age. I’m convinced that nobody at that ground today could have remained so composed in such circumstances as Brandon did to coolly slot home the winner.

Myself, Dan and Ian celebrated like we’ve never celebrated before. The parents celebrated like they’d never celebrated before. The lads, our boys, celebrated like they’d never celebrated before. And we cried. Like we’ve all never cried at a football match before. On the toughest day of our short history, we’d done it!

In the squad game of 9v9, we again showed what a force we could become next season. Goals from Ollie, Brandon, Harry and Luca saw us take a 4-1 victory, which thankfully wasn’t spoilt by our very own Joey Barton being sent for an early wash with the family flannel (I miss those days!). It was a great squad performance driven by Cameron playing in defence. If you didn’t fill up when he was substituted to get a standing ovation with minutes to go, unplug yourself; you’re not human.

Man of the Match for the cup game was this week voted for by the players. Such is the bond amongst this fantastic set of lads, their unanimous decision was for Cameron who deserved it for so much more than simply sentiment. In an unprecedented move, Cameron also won the award for the squad game. Again, it was fully deserved. On a day when he wanted to make his mum proud, he couldn’t have done a better job.

Thanks as always for your support. You are the extra ‘man’ that we needed today. We’ll have tougher games, but we won’t have many tougher days. And thanks on behalf of Cam for making it ‘normal’.

For Dawn. Your son couldn’t have made you prouder. Rest in peace. We miss you.”

A fundraising page has been set up to honour the life of Dawn Shepherd, who passed away on the 3rd of November 2016 after a courageous battle with cancer. Dawn has two gorgeous boys called Cameron age 9 and Lewis age 11 and through this page and other fundraising we want to help these brave boys as much as possible for their future.  Please do follow this link and donate and/or publicize – it all really can help Cameron and Lewis.  Thank you for listening.

NOW please click through:

Aviva Community Grants

PLEASE do help one of my community projects.  It would means so much. All you need to do is cast a vote – it costs nothing but time.

They are:

Challenge 4 Change

Manchester Capoeira Academy

Manchester Rugby Club

Stockport Metro Swimming

Sunspot Velo Cycling

Read more

Make A Splash this Christmas

Just take a minute to consider how you can actually help a local club to try and achieve its dreams of making the Olympics in Rio next Year. Stockport Metro Swimming Club has just launched a fundraising appeal to help bring in the necessary money to take its talented and aspiring athletes to a dedicated training camp in the New Year.  The campaign is live NOW and will run until 3rd January 2016 only, by which stage the minimum target of £2,400 has to be pledged.

Coach, Richard Blackshaw said:

“This Appeal is to help our swimmers attend a 4 week training camp based in Pretoria, South Africa. This camp is a specific Altitude camp and will allow the swimmers to make a physiological adaptation that can make a huge difference at International levels where 100th of a second divides 1st from 4th. Training at altitude is impossible within our own Country hence the reason to travel to countries abroad.”

Stockport Metro has enjoyed a long history of podium success across all age groups at County, Regional, National and International levels, breaking countless British and Commonwealth records. Since moving to Grand Central Pools fourteen athletes have qualified for the Olympic Games, and the Club has produced four Olympic medallists, making it the most successful in British history.

As with all sports, reward is measured on performance and following the London 2012 Olympics the governing body suffered funding cuts, the cuts have been significant and since 2012 Stockport Metro funding has been cut until in 2015 we are no longer receiving any funding at all – which in the past has enabled our athletes to have the best environment and attend altitude camps.

All the successful athletes in its history attended altitude training camps during their 4 year Olympic cycles. Steve Parry and Graeme Smith both won bronze medals in Athens and Atlanta respectively. Adrian Turner was a semi-finalist in Atlanta. James Goddard, a Commonwealth Triple gold medallist, narrowly missed out on a medal in Athens.

Five Metro swimmers competed in Beijing: Keri-Anne Payne who took the silver in the inaugural 10K Marathon Open Water event, Cassie Patten took the bronze in the same event, Michael Rock, James Goddard and David Carry. A further five Metro swimmers competed in the London 2012 games, Keri-Anne Payne, Michael Rock, David Carry, James Goddard and Sophie Allen.

Stockport Metro’s key objective is to develop the next generation of World Class Athletes and give them the opportunity to be successful on the senior international stage. With the current group of swimmers coming through the pathway times are extremely exciting. If anyone watched the recent European Championships in Baku, seeing Holly Hibbott, aged only 15, becoming Champion in the 800 freestyle beating the best of Europe or Katie Matts winning a Bronze at the World Junior Championships in Singapore will have seen the potential and what an outstanding achievement it was, but the ambition, philosophy or track record is not to produce successful junior athletes but to produce successful senior athletes. Metro seek to achieve this with your help. Holly and Katie are but two of the talents among the British National Champions of 2015. Director of Performance, Sean Kelly, former Head Coach of the Stockport ITC, has been on the GB coaching team for the past two Olympic Games. He is one of the most successful coaches in British history in terms of podium success, and has twice been honoured with the GB Coach of the Year award.

The Fundraising Appeal is being conducted on the website link:

Donations are being accepted from as little as £1 so everyone can help the cause.  For donations, each person will receive a range of exciting rewards including: messages from our swimmers on social media, personalised letters from a swimmer, signed swimming caps, signed t-shirt, entry to a select raffle, personalised tuition with a member of the Stockport Metro Performance Squad, advert in the events programmes for a full twelve months or all of the above.

Please contribute whatever you can – or maybe make a donation instead of buying and sending out Christmas Cards this Year or you can even buy one of the superb offerings as a present. 

Let’s put Stockport on the map again in Rio.

Note to Editor:

  1. Photo of Fundraising Appeal website at Sponsorise.Me (web site address: enclosed)
  2. More information: Julie Bennett, Swimming Development Manager 07919 004070
  3. Anyone interested in sponsoring Stockport Metro can contact

Back the Wolf

As the concept of brand ‘Wolfpack’ takes a further foothold in swimming domination, it is no surprise that the future looks bright for Stockport’s very own Metro Swimming Club.  The Wolf analogy has been adopted through Head Coach Sean Kelly’s training methodology putting emphasis on teamwork towards common goals.  Sean is well known to ACROBAT Consulting & Marketing after generously lecturing at our Event in 2012.

ACROBAT Consulting & Marketing through Sister-Company FC Sports Marketing Limited, in conjunction with local agency David Trott Consultancy, will be working on a Project to generate additional revenue into the Club through sponsorship packages suited to a range of budgets.  The pedigree of Metro Swimming Club is renoun with medalists at major events such as Olympic Games, European Championships and Commonwealth with high profile athletes such as: Steve Parry and Graeme Smith (both won bronze medals in Athens and Atlanta respectively); Adrian Turner (semi-finalist in Atlanta); James Goddard (Commonwealth gold medallist). Five Metro swimmers competed in Beijing: Keri-anne Payne took the silver in the inaugural 10K Marathon Open Water event, Cassie Patten took the bronze in the same event, Michael Rock, James Goddard and David Carry.  A further five Metro swimmer competed in the London 2012 games, Keri-Anne Payne, Michael Rock, David Carry, James Goddard and Sophie Allen.

Anyone interested in sponsorship in association with this ‘Wolfpack’ of elite athletes, the Club brand (most successful in Great Britain) and/or the massive developmental school with participants throughout the North West can email

Established in 1974, Stockport Metro currently has a membership of approximately 230 swimmers and operates learning lessons and schools programmes across a wide area. Need any more inspiration watch the video below.