Will Patching delivers on his classy promise to four year-old Derry City fanatic

BIG-HEARTED Will Patching has won the heart of four year-old Derry City fanatic Braelin Diver after delivering on his classy promise to the youngster.

By Simon Collins
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 5:25 pm

The Derry City playmaker has done some incredibly impressive things on the pitch over the past season but his contributions off it have left a significant impression on one young supporter.

Patching has formed an unlikely friendship with loveable football fan Braelin who has been going to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium since he was 10 weeks-old.

In fact his first match was the opening of the Lone Moor Road stadium in March 2018 against Limerick and he's taken his seat every home game in the South End Park Stand ever since.

Young City fan Braelin tries to catch the attention of his hero Will Patching during a Derry City match at Brandywell

Braelin, who goes into primary one at Oakgrove PS next month, has twice been team mascot on matchdays walking out alongside ex-City star Ronan Curtis when he was just four months and most recently with his hero Patching for Derry's home clash with Drogheda.

It was his cheeky homemade sign requesting Patching's shirt which caught the eye of the Manchester man during Derry's home fixture against UCD last April and the City playmaker obliged after some gentle persuasion from his mother.

The former Man City Academy star has since presented him with a signed pair of football boots and when he scored in that 7-1 drubbing of UCD, he made a point of racing towards the corner of the South End Park stand and dedicated his goal to the youngster with a cheeky celebration aimed at his direction.

It was a lovely gesture from Patching who said he appreciates all the support from Braelin and his family.

Braelin meets his hero Will Patching after last Saturday's match when the City star gave him a pair of signed boots.

"His dad is a top guy and Braelin's a great little fella," said Patching. "They've been supportive of me from the get-go. One day his son made a sign for me for a game and I had my family over and my family and his family had a good chat together. He's a funny little guy so I gave him my shirt. They've been really supportive and I really appreciate it. It's top class."

Braelin's father Darran, originally from Foyle Hill, explains how Patching's close relationship with the adorable four year-old has developed over the season and the reasons behind the player's goal celebration where he points his finger and winks towards the crowd.

"He just took a shine to Patching but I think every young supporter at the club did too," said Darran. "Braelin wanted to do a sign for him at the match and I didn't really want him to in case he didn't get a top.

"He made the sign anyway asking; 'Will, can I have your shirt?' with a photograph of the two of them on it. I had met with Patching before and he told me he would get him a shirt. It might not be this season's but we were walking out of the Brandywell one day with Patching and Eoin Toal, it was a Thursday and they were playing UCD the next night.

Braelin walks out onto the Brandywell pitch as mascot alongside his hero Will Patching for the recent home game against Drogheda.

"Patching asked him where he sits and Braelin showed him. He told him; 'If I score tomorrow, I'm coming over to celebrate with you'. He scored and ran over to celebrate. Ever since, each time he's scored at Brandywell he comes over to that corner and points to him.

"He got him the black top from two years ago, after the Bohs game. His mother and his girlfriend saw Braelin with the sign, and his mother said; 'you better get that young fella a top, I don't care where you get it from but you better get him a top'.

"Patching told her he had it in the car and asked me to meet him in the car park afterwards and he gave him the top. That's when I met his mother and father and his partner and we've been close friends since.

"After the match last Saturday (against Oliver Bond Celtic) he told Braelin he had a pair of signed boots for him because he knew he was getting his room done up. He had about 100 wains chasing him to try and get his boots off him," he laughed.

Proud as punch, four year-old Braelin walks into Brandywell wearing Will Patching's old jersey.

That shirt and those football boots will take pride of place on the wall of Braelin's new Derry City themed bedroom at his Gortnessy Meadows home which is nearing completion.

And the young City fan is over the moon that his favourite player has donated those cherished pieces of kit.

"I go to all the matches," beamed a proud Braelin. "It's good because I get to see Patching. He's my favourite player because he never misses a penalty. He gave me his massive top and his boots. He's so good and he's nice to me."

Asked how he felt when Patching gave him his boots, he replied: "Not bad. I'm keeping the boots for my room."

Braelin, who also has a soft spot for Ciaron 'Jackie' Harkin and Patrick McEleney, will travel to Oriel Park on Friday night for Derry's huge top of the table clash with Dundalk.

And while Patching is rated doubtful for a return to his old club due to an ankle injury, the young City supporter, who wants to play for the Candy Stripes when he's older, reckons Ruaidhri Higgins' men will still win big.

"I love singing the songs at the Brandywell," added Braelin. "They're going to win the cup." Asked for a prediction for Friday's match, he optimistically responded; "It's going to be 5-0. Jamie McGonigle, 'Fats', Shane McEleney will score and who else? Akintunde."

Hopefully Braelin can be the Brandywell club's lucky charm at Oriel.

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