Sunderland at Wembley: Bradley Lowery’s friend calls for applause on sixth minute of Checkatrade Trophy Final
A schoolgirl who forged a friendship with Bradley Lowery as they were treated for cancer has called on Sunderland fans to celebrate his life during Wembley’s Checkatrade Trophy Final.
Fellow Black Cat follower Nicole Agar and Bradley became pals as they underwent care, with their families also becoming friends during their hospital stays.
Bradley, from Blackhall Colliery, died in July 2017 aged six, after treatment was unable to beat his neuroblastoma.
The appeal to fund specialist cancer treatment and his connection with then Sunderland player Jemain Defoe became known the world round.
He appeared as a mascot for England at Wembley in March 2017 as the national side took on Lithuania in a World Cup qualifier.
Now Nicole and her grandparents Ian and Susan Fitzgerald are calling on Sunderland fans to pay their respects with a round of applause on the sixth minute of Sunday’s game against Portsmouth.
Nicole, 11, was left blind by a Visual Pathway Glioma brain tumour, which was diagnosed when she was five-months-old.
Ian, a senior care worker, and Susan, both 53, who works for Henderson Doors, will be travelling down to London for the match.
Nicole and Ian’s love of football has formed a special bond between them, and she has appeared as a mascot at the Stadium of Light and met many of the players.
While she is registered blind and has been left with a little light perception, she loves taking in the atmosphere, shouting out support for the team and singing along with the crowd.
Ian, who moved back from working in China to support the family when Nicole fell ill, said: “It’s just something we thought about, because we know Bradley’s mam and dad and they are definitely going to the match and I know it’s hard for Gemma, because the last time they were there was with Bradley and I know something like that would help her.
“I put something on Facebook about it and I got lots of support.
“Nicole said she wants people to show support for Bradley and she’s been a mascot at Sunderland but we had to take her to hospital at half-time because she wasn’t well.
“We’d been in Bradley’s box and Lynden Gooch had come to see her afterwards, and we weren’t there.
“She loves going to the match and the fans love her.
“Sunderland as a club is fantastic when it comes to its disabled supporters, they can’t do enough.”
Ian and Susan, who live in West Cornforth, will be travelling down to London with Nicole, who lives in Ferryhill, by a Sunderland Supporters’ Association coach.