Sixty-four lucky football fans, who are a mix of male and female fans with ages ranging from early 20s right up to 100 years, will be representing their football club as they join with The Band of The Brigade of Gurkhas in front of almost 90,000 people on Saturday 30 May. Each fan represents one of the 64 teams who’ve made it to this year’s third round in the FA Cup.
Over 1,300 people applied to take part in the unique experience to sing ‘Abide with Me’, which has become a constant fixture since it was first sung at the FA Cup Final in 1927.
The stories we received have been both funny and moving and many have been about family. Lots are to do with how football helped cement relationships between fathers and their children.
Our oldest winner, Newcastle United’s longest serving season ticket holder, will be 100 next month! We've got an 87 year old Arsenal fan. Our Liverpool fan tells a moving tale about surviving Hillsborough and there are great stories about young fans collecting vouchers to get tickets to the FA Cup Final.
The Burnley fan remembers being mortified at 14 years old because her parents insisted on her wearing her school uniform to the FA Cup Final so 'I could be easily spotted in the crowd'.
The Millwall fan describes how football is the way she communicates with her father who has dementia. 'My dad is now 91 and suffering from dementia but thanks to the FA Cup we have just had a conversation about our cup run in 1937 and 2004. Dad only remembers 1937, but we both laughed. Precious!'
Another fan met his future wife at the game in 1975, when they were both children.
The Derby County fan describes how his mum provided solace to him and his brother after his team lost to Man U in the FA Cup third round draw.
‘Mum had comfort food – beans on toast – ready for us on our return home. For my brother and I there was only one topic of conversation as we re-lived each goal in detail. Mum had weightier matters on her mind, recently diagnosed with what proved to be a terminal illness. 'There's always next year' she volunteered. There was for the FA Cup, but not for Mum and we sang 'Abide with Me' at her funeral.'