Sun, 11 Aug 2019
A THATCHAM football fan has been crowned national supporter of the year for his tireless dedication through adversity.
Despite having had surgery which ruled him out of playing in the 2018/19 season, Thomas Woodrow attended every one of his Thatcham Town Harriers matches to cheer on his friends.
Not only did he attend every one of his team’s games as a supporter, he assisted the coaches in their duties as a way of making a more tangible contribution.
Thomas, 13, said: “I’m so pleased to have been awarded Supporter of the Year.
“Thatcham Town Harriers are a huge part of my life and I love being a part of the club.
“Even though I was unable to play in the team this year, I’ve not let that get in the way of my support for my teammates and coaches, and I hope to re-join as a player at some point in the future.”
Thomas was born with one leg longer than the other and has had several operations to lengthen his leg.
But his parents Camilla and Karl, who is Harriers secretary, treasurer and coach, said Thomas’ birth defect didn’t stop him kicking a ball around and wanting to play the beautiful game.
A big Southampton fan, Thomas was told he’d won the award by Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse, who dropped in on a Harriers training session.
Judges said that Thomas’ perseverance to get back to playing and the emotional maturity he had shown in finding ways to make a positive contribution despite setbacks earned him the respect of teammates, coaches and parents, as well as the Supporter of the Year award.
Mr Ward-Prowse praised people who “get behind the team, no matter what the situation”.
He said: “I think it’s easier when the team is winning, but they need you more than ever when the team’s down and not doing so well.
“So, you can clearly see that Thomas has that, and that rubs off for the energy that he gives to the team.”
It was great to surprise @SouthamptonFC fan Thomas Woodrow to tell him he had won The @FA & @McDonaldsUK Grassroots Supporter of the Year. I hope you enjoy your day out at Wembley. Go to https://t.co/XW855hgrfJ to find out more. #grassrootsheroes #ad pic.twitter.com/IViG1jpFTY— James Ward-Prowse (@Prowsey16) August 4, 2019
Thomas was presented with his award at the Football Association and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
The awards recognise and celebrate the tireless volunteers who dedicate their time to the grassroots game.
The award was presented by former footballer Danny Murphy ahead of the FA Community Shield between Manchester City and Liverpool.
During the half-time break, Thomas joined World Cup hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst on the pitch in front of 77,000 fans.
He also presented the man-of-the-match award to City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne.
Sir Geoff said: “I have been involved with the Grassroots Awards since the beginning and the stories of the winners never fail to impress me.
“Thomas should be extremely proud of his work and grassroots football in Berkshire is a much better place with Thomas a part of it.
“It was a pleasure to meet Thomas and I hope he continues his extraordinary commitment to football for many years to come.”
Local McDonald’s franchisee Ross Drake, who is an avid supporter of grassroots football in Berkshire, said: “It’s an honour to recognise the support of people like Thomas within the grassroots football community in Berkshire.
“In the face of adversity, he has shown true commitment to the game he loves and I look forward to see him back playing with his team soon.
“I’ve been supporting grassroots football in Berkshire for many years and Thomas’s story really highlights the difference the volunteers make in the local community.”