‘Perfect tribute’ set to support children’s cancer charity in memory of five-year-old Nate

A football match in memory of a five-year-old boy who passed away from a brain tumour last year is raising funds for a children’s cancer charity.

The Nate Gidman Memorial Match takes place on Saturday 11 February, at New Ferry Park, New Ferry, contested by a team led by Nate’s dad, Phil, and Sands United, a community of footballers comprised of bereaved fathers.

The game, which is raising vital funds for Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), kicks-off at 10:30am, a few hours before Tranmere Rovers, the team supported by Phil and Nate, take on Salford City.

Fans of the clubs are encouraged to head down to the memorial match in the morning – where admission is free but donations are being collected – before going to watch the League 2 clash in the afternoon.

Taking place a few days after the first anniversary of Nate’s death, Phil, originally from Birkenhead but who now lives in Lincoln, said that it’s the perfect tribute to the football-mad youngster. He said, “Nate was such a quality person, who impacted so many people’s lives, in such a positive way, and what better way to honour him than with a football match.

“When Sands said they wanted in, it was a massive honour. These guys understand what it’s like to lose someone, and there’s a massive amount of feeling and respect there.”

Nate was diagnosed with medulloblastoma in 2020, shortly before his fourth birthday, and captured the hearts of Tranmere supporters when Phil began to share updates about Nate’s journey on Twitter.

Phil was, and still is, inundated with messages and well-wishes, “The fanbase have been amazing. I have fans randomly messaging me, checking I’m all right.

“I’m so grateful for the love and support. A lot of these strangers have become friends and I love them dearly. It’s been phenomenal.”

Support has also poured in from fans of other clubs and Phil said the memorial game, and a number of other gestures, shows that ‘cancer doesn’t wear football colours’.

He said, “We’ve got a Dortmund fan playing, an Arsenal fan, even a Chester City fan, and if you know your football, you’ll know that they’re a rival [of Tranmere], so it shows the measure of the people involved that they’re willing to put these rivalries aside.

“One thing football fans know how to do is support and that’s certainly something they’ve done for us as a family.”

Nate and Phil reading
Nate and mum, Nicola

Phil continued, “Football sometimes gets a bad rap, but I’ve only seen the greatness, really. “The Tranmere fans have been sublime all the way through, but there’s been so many clubs that have stepped in and offered their best wishes.

“Sutton United, in Tranmere’s league, did a fundraiser for CCLG off their own back. A few of their support liaison officers were touched by our story and have constantly been phenomenal.

“Again, much like Rovers fans, they’ve got behind this game by donating, and that means a lot.”

Phil added that Tranmere, as a club, have been “tremendous” in their support. Amongst many other touching acts, including naming their community ticket scheme after Nate as a lasting tribute, he said one particular gesture held a special place in his heart.

He said, “The owners have been fantastic and so, so supportive. “They set Nate up to be mascot in his final December, a week before Christmas.

“Just to experience that moment with him, taking him out on the pitch and watching him score a goal, it was beautiful. “The fans were singing and cheering for him, he loved it.

“Nate used to be the life and soul of the party, but after all these invasive treatments and surgeries, he did become quite insular, so to carry him out on the football pitch, waving at all the fans, was fantastic.”

During his treatment, Nate underwent gruelling high-dose chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, developing some debilitating side effects that affected his quality of life as a result.

Phil said that he and Nate’s mum Nicola wanted to raise funds for a charity that supports research into finding better, kinder treatments, that will not only lead to improved outcomes for children with brain tumours, but also have less side effects.

Phil explained, “It’s incredibly important to us to support a charity that is committed to investing in finding better treatments for kids and CCLG does that.

“Some of these treatments are just brutal and to see what it took out of Nate was just devastating.

“It’s only when you experience it or hear someone talk about it that you realise just how brutal they are.

“Though Nate remained focused on playing and being a kid, we could see how much it would fatigue him, how much it hurt him.”

To donate to the fundraising and for updates on the game, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/phil-gidman2

Nate and Phil at Prenton Park
Nate during treatment

Main image: Nate Gidman

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