Stuart & Doug Portrait

June 9, 1994. Johannesburg, South Africa.

It’s a freezing Winter’s morning, and it is my birthday. I get up really early, wake my younger brother and barge into my parent’s bedroom. I’m super excited because if I'm getting anything near what I've been asking for the past 6 weeks, it's going to be an awesome day.

It was a red 1994 Manchester United Home Kit.

Looking back now, this special shirt symbolises important parts of my life. It represents my childhood, my relationship with my brother, my Mum and especially my Dad.

It's not easy getting a shirt like this during this time in South Africa.  The country was unstable and rising out of apartheid, no online shopping or google searches, just a phone book and man hours.

I have been big into football for as long as I can remember and I have played at a variety of levels and in countless places. But there, in the memory bank, every single my Dad. Watching the FA Cup Semi Final, Tottenham vs Arsenal, Paul Gascoigne’s free kick from 40 yards to win the game. My Dad driving my brother and I 2 or 3, sometimes 4 times a week to various grounds peppered around Johannesburg. Playing soccer on holiday in Malawi. Watching various English teams touring at Ellis Park.

When I was 13, our family moved to Australia.

Again the same thing. Countless training sessions, weekend games all over Southern Victoria, and now waking up at 4am to watch live games. Manchester United vs Australia. Manchester United vs Arsenal, Manchester United vs Bayern Munich, Manchester United vs Chelsea, Manchester United vs Aston Villa, Manchester United vs Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester United, Manchester United, Manchester United...

And he is an Aston Villa supporter.

The game, the gift and everything I love about football are all thanks to my Dad. Not living at home anymore makes it a little harder to watch games with Dad as do the 4am wake ups. But even though to physically sit down and watch a game with my Father is a much rarer occasion these days, it’s still very special to do so. 

So I would like to say Thank You Dad. Thanks for the game, for everything you have done, and will continue to do for me, my brother and our Family.

We love you very much.


Special thanks to Jeff Dowsing and AAMI Park for letting us onto the pitch for this post!

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