Former Professional Footballer, Manager and Chairman, Dean Holdsworth, tells FootieWithDad about his story as a youngster and what impact the beautiful game played upon his life growing up. Dean is also the official ambassador for FootieWithDad!

“When I was youngster my parents separated and divorced, which wasn’t a nice time at all for all concerned. The transition left my my mum with the task of looking after three children on her own – this was around a time when single mothers really didn’t have anywhere to go in terms of support.” He said.

“Equal rights were a little different then, or so it seemed. As a result, we left the family home and my Mum went in search and found a council flat for us to live in – it was tough times for everyone.”

Dean and his siblings didn’t see much of their Dad, in fact hardly ever. “He wasn’t what you call a football person at all”, Dean admitted. “My fix of football started when my school mates and I played football in the playground – we absolutely loved it!”

“The goals were painted on the walls of the school building, there was no clean cut grass to play on or corner flags to mark out a pitch – just the corner of the wall end.”

Outside of school, Dean spent many weekends living with his Grandparents near the old Boleyn Ground, home to none other than West Ham United.

“My Grandad John was very keen to take me along to watch The Hammers play – they actually lived in the same road as Alan Curbishley, a former West Ham player, which I thought was amazing at the time!” He said.

“When my Grandad said we had tickets to a game, I was always so excited at the thought of going to the match.”

“The walk down Green Street, with the floodlights shining bright, the club scarves wrapped around our necks and wrists, followed by the atmosphere of the West Ham fans singing ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air’ along the road.”

“When we got to the ground, we would que up at the turnstiles and shuffle into the stadium – I couldn’t put into words how excited I was!” He added.

“Once we were in, my Grandad would navigate us to the North bank terraces. I was small so sometimes it could be difficult to see the game, often I would sit on my Grandad’s shoulders to watch my hero’s take the halo turf of The Boleyn.

As Dean went to watch more and more games with his beloved Grandad, he grew to take a liking to certain players: “The likes of Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds were my favourite players to watch!” He smiled. “We had a street party when we beat Arsenal in the Cup final!”

“The sheer happiness of everyone around us when the team scored was amazing! I remember after the game, I would talk all the way home: ‘Did you see this, did you see that Grandad?!’

Dean also touched upon a moment at a match that stuck in his mind to this very day, “I lost the hat I was wearing after a goal celebration, it ended up on the floor so I tried to find it amongst the feet of the fans surrounding me – but no joy!”

“Although I was upset about the hat, the feeling of West Ham winning was amazing – it made my day, my evening and my week!”

It’s clear to see that the game of Football took Dean’s mind off other things, his Nan and Grandad were a big part to thank for that, along with his Mum. The game took that much of a hold on the schoolboy, so much so Dean had a successful career of his own as a footballer – you could say it became his release and his passion – something we can all relate too…

“My Grandad became the parent taking me to the matches, like many families, the Mum and Grandparents take on the role of Dad, for all different circumstances – there is no better feeling than sharing those moments with that person.”

These memories are still shared today, memories which we can all share with FootieWithDad! If you’re a parent, grandparent or guardian, you can get involved and share the bond between you and your children.

FootieWithDad hope to raise money and focus on those that are less fortunate. Many unprivileged children aren’t able to see their favourite team play live for whichever reason, you can donate to this worthwhile cause here –
With our help, we hope to make dreams come true, where these children can be taken to a football match with a person of their choice. Let’s make it possible!

The beautiful game of football can bring anyone and everyone together. A bond like no other…