The children of the late Anna Verrico of Epworth led out their mum’s favourite team at their final match of the season, on Saturday.
Strong links between the Verrico family and Scunthorpe United were formed when Anna led the team out three days before her death from breast cancer, on November 16 last year. A sum of £1500 was raised for Anna’s fighting fund that day then matched by club chairman Peter Swann.
A standing ovation for Anna at the next home game led to a 28-match unbeaten run for manager Russ Wilcox, and at the promoted team’s final game v York, little Lucia and Alessandro were there for their mum, once more.
The support extended by the club to the Isle community has gained them many new supporters.
Widower Paul Verrico received a T-shirt from top scorer Sam Winnall who had just been voted League Two player of the season by a leading magazine. Paul noted: “Winnall is a young lad, his team had just got promoted, every girl wanted a photo with him...and he wanted to see a middle-aged man and two kids. What a top fella!”
The Verricos ‘closed the circle’ by delivering the match ball to the referee, with just one minute’s notice, and Paul addressed 8,000 fans to thank them for their support.
He also thanked mascot ‘Scunny bunny’ Glyn Sparks, adding: “One of the tiny glimmers of good to come out of the torrid last six months has been our friendship. He is a trustee of www.teamverrico.org and has raised a whopping £3,200 for the new charity.” The young mascots wore TeamVerrico tee-shirts instead of the usual club livery for the first time in over 20 years.
Afterwards, comments on Facebook included the following; Matt Smith: “People think allegiance to a football club is something immutable you carry with you from birth. I’ve supported West Ham for 30 years but hearing things like this have converted me. I’m a casual armchair fan 200 miles away but I’ll be proud to support a club that cares about people in its own community.”
And Katy Jane Henry said: “Never followed football until we lost Anna. Scunthorpe are a kind-hearted team who have brought a community together.”
Paul said: “Scunthorpe United has been truly magnificent. It seems odd to talk about a club supporting a fan, but to a man, they have supported us, befriended us and at times have not been afraid to cry with us. The compassion shown by a squad of young men is astonishing and heartwarming. Lucia, in particular, has drawn sustenance and encouragement from the vibe of the club and this has helped her on the road to a happier place. I am truly grateful to all involved.”