THOUSANDS of football fans paid a heart-warming tribute to tragic Epworth boy Alexander Strong in a week which would have seen him celebrate his eighth birthday.
The former Epworth Primary School pupil, who lost his fight with cancer on January 25, was a season ticket holder at his beloved Scunthorpe United.
More than 3,000 supporters joined players in a one minute applause in memory of Alexander, affectionately known as Lex, before the club’s League One home game against Crawley Town on Saturday.
The boy’s parents, Mark, 46, and Maxine, 45, along with his nine-year-old sister Olivia, were given free tickets for the game and were invited to meet some of the players.
Mr Strong, a chartered engineer, of Burnham Road, said: “It was very heart warming for us to see so many fans giving their applause.
“The club have been great and it was a fitting tribute.”
The family was asked to present the man of the match award to defender Tom Newey after Scunthorpe’s 2-1 win.
It was also invited to attend a charity dinner in aid of children’s charity Barnardo’s in London on Tuesday, which would have marked Alexander’s eighth birthday.
The invitation was arranged by Barnardo’s charity partner Pia Michi, which helped organise a fashion show in aid of Alexander last October.
Mr Strong said: “As a family we will be doing something special every year to mark his birthday.
“The support we have had from people has been incredible.
“The number of people at his funeral last week, and then the support from the football fans really helps.
“This is a difficult time for us and we are still coming to terms with all that has happened.
“It happened quite quickly in the end and there is a little bit of relief mixed in there that he is no longer in any pain.”
Alexander suffered from a rare form of cancer called neuroblastoma and died at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, near Sheffield.
More than £50,000 was raised to pay for him to travel overseas for treatment.
The family plan to donate the money to cancer charities which help children.