‘It’s lovely to talk to him’ - Town fan John, 73, on his weekly lockdown chats with star Vincent-Young
- Credit: Archant
An Ipswich Town season ticket holder who’s been confined to his house during the coronavirus crisis has revealed how a weekly phone call from Blues star Kane Vincent-Young has been lifting his spirits.
John Hassey, 73, and wife Pat have been shielding at home in Thetford since the lockdown began. But weekly companionship has come from an unlikely source - electrifying Town full-back Vincent-Young, who at 23 is some 50 years younger.
John, a season ticket holder for 48 years who sits in the North Stand, takes up the story.
“My wife is classed as one of the 1.2 million that are ultra at risk from the virus, so since March 23 we’ve been in total lockdown,” he explained.
“Pat’s not allowed to go out at all, and I can only go into the garden, so it’s been tough.
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“When Kane first phoned up he said ‘Hi, my name’s Kane Vincent-Young, I’m from Ipswich Town and we’ve all been designated some fans over the age of 70 that have been shielding to call and see how you’re doing.’
“We had a great chat for ten minutes or so, and he said ‘I’ll call you again next week.’ I told him that it was very nice and he didn’t have to, but he did - and he’s been calling me every Monday since, even on the Bank Holiday.
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“This kid needs some recognition, I just think it’s so good of him.”
Asked what the pair talk about, John – a father of two and grandfather of seven – said: “We talk about football, our families, fitness, life in general really.
“We’ve been talking about what’s happening with League One, the fact he’s been able to start playing tennis again, stuff like that.
“I’ve got two sons I adore, and their kids, but to get a guy phone up that I’ve never actually met, only watched play on the park, is incredible - he gets my vote for player of the year, young player of the year, all of the awards!
“He just sounds so grounded, it’s lovely to talk to him. I even helped him pick a dessert to make for his family - they’ve been having a competition to see who can cook the best Sunday dinner, but he couldn’t decide what to make for dessert.
“I went through some options with him, and said ‘what about Eton Mess?’ He didn’t know what that was, so I explained... strawberries, cream and the rest, and he ended up making it. It went down very well, apparently!”
John said as well as lifting his spirits, the weekly calls from Vincent-Young have also made him feel even more connected to the football club.
“When Mick McCarthy was here, I thought we’d lost the soul of the club,” he explained. “Since Paul Lambert arrived, the club has been trying to reach out, and for a young lad like Kane to reach out to someone my age is great.
“We had some good years with Mick, but towards the end of his time, the heart of the club got sucked out.
“Those last games under Mick, the over 60’s were leaving and that was terrible, then Hurst came and didn’t go down very well, but Lambert has worked wonders to get the fans back in.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he initiated this, or was involved.”
With League One seemingly set to be ended next week, the next question will be when the 2020/21 campaign can start - and if fans will be allowed.
And John said he’ll have no qualms about heading back to his beloved Portman Road when the time comes.
“I’ve missed football like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “Again, full marks to the club. I phoned them up and said I didn’t want to keep paying £20 a month because this might go on for months, and the young lady on the other end of the phone said don’t worry about it, we’ll stop the payments and you’ll still keep your seat, which is brilliant, because it’s great where we sit.
“I’ll be happy to go back to Portman Road, without a shadow of a doubt. I’ve been reading that we’ll be Covid-controlled by early September, so I’ll go to the games and will be wearing a face-mask and maybe gloves.
“I can’t wait to get back cheering the boys on.”
A spokesman for Ipswich Town said the club were happy to hear that Vincent-Young’s calls have been helping.
He added: “The manager and all the players from the first-team squad, as well as other club staff have been contacting our older season ticket holders all through lockdown for a chat - not just about football, but about life in general as well.
“It has been, and still is, a challenging time for everyone, but especially for those that have been shielding and living on their own, so if the players and staff have helped in a small way by making a call and having a conversation with people like John, that’s good to know.”