We live in an era where supporters of football clubs are often neglected and treated more as customers than fans, where ticket prices have only increased in recent seasons, and where many football fans lead an Against Modern Football movement.
Rarely does a club come together to help a fan, but Dutch side Feyenoord and its fans recently did exactly that.
Rooie Marck, a lifelong Feyenoord supporter and member of Het Legioen had been battling cancer for some time. Upon being informed that the cancer was terminal and he had only days to live, Rooie had just one wish, to watch his beloved Feyenoord once again.
Rooie's friends had organised a special visit to the De Kuip Stadium in Rotterdam for a pre-season training session. What Rooie did not expect was the incredibly warm welcome that awaited him as he entered the pitch on his hospital bed adorned in his club's colours.
Just as any other of the club's first pre-season training sessions, Feyenoord fans packed into the stadium to traditionally welcome the squad with pyro shows and raucous chanting.
This time was slightly different however as supporters had come to support Rooie, not their players. The supporters unveiled a banner in his honour with a picture of Marck displayed on the front coupled with the words: "uit eigenkracht voortgebracht" which when translated means: "produced from own strength," and they lit huge numbers of flares simultaneously.
Het Legioen adopted Liverpool's anthem of "You'll Never Walk Alone" in an emotional tribute to the terminally ill fan.
Too ill to stand, Rooie was accompanied by his friends and family as he wept tears of joy. Feyenoord's players came over to meet Rooie, led by manager Ronald Koeman, who all embraced the man who saw them as his heroes.
He was presented his own shirt as he delivered a passionate speech to the players, emphatically hitting the Feyenoord badge upon his chest.
Having posed for photographs and thanking the players, Rooie thanked the players and after being so overwhelmed, Rooie went across to the supporters to thank them, holding a club flag aloft.
Unsurprisingly, he moved slowly and was escorted by his friends whom he had an arm over either shoulder. As he neared to the supporters, they encouraged him with chants of: "Come on Rooie! Come on Rooie!" and yet more pyro shows.
Marck shrugged off his friends and family to incredibly take the final few steps on his own. He blew kisses to the crowd, thumped the badge on his heart and lead the crowd in a chant of: "Feyenoord till' I die," in an amazing display of gratitude.
The man tragically passed away only three days after this visit, but thanks to the fantastic fans, Rooie was given the ultimate farewell and will have passed away with special memories.
Bill Shankly once famously said: ”Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that,” when he was manager of Liverpool FC.
On a special afternoon in Rotterdam, one man showed that this might just be true.
Rest in Peace, Rooie Marck.
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