Preston North End’s annual visit to Royal Preston Hospital certainly put things in to perspective for the first team, including two players in particular for different reasons.
North End’s Callum Robinson had been in fantastic form before his injury, sustained during the Blackburn Rovers win, and the injury was an untimely blow for PNE’s No. 7.
As a result, Robinson has had his fair share of hospital visits in recent weeks, but his most recent appointment to see the children’s ward at RPH was a reminder of the realities for some families this Christmas.
“It’s a reality check” said Robinson. “Obviously I’ve been down about my injury recently, but you come down to places like this and realise that you’re very lucky to be in the situation you’re in.
“Throughout the year we’re always out in the community. We’ll go to the soccer schools, go to peoples’ houses etc. We’re role models, especially for kids who look up to us so for them to see us in the flesh sometimes makes them happy so it’s a part of the job.
“I’ve realised how lucky I am even though I am injured to be coming to places like this, life isn’t as harsh as you think it is.
“It’s a lovely feeling to see these children and hopefully put a smile on their face, it’s good for us as well because we’re doing something that we love for a living everyda to have a reality check with everything that’s going on."
The visit brought about a friendly reunion for Alan Browne; having visited 10-year Joel Shaw at his Grandparents home a week prior, the pair met again in the children’s ward.
Joel, who is currently undergoing Chemotherapy prepared to meet Alan again by making his favourite PNE player a Christmas card, and Browne was just as happy as Joel to see him.
“I met Joel last week at his home and I didn’t actually realise he was back in hospital” added Browne.
“I walked into the room, seen him and to be honest, my face probably lit up more than his because he’s such a good kid and it was great to see him again so to have that time again was really special.
“The lads and the community do their best to get out throughout the year but I think at Christmas time it’s really important. Some kids have to spend their Christmas here so it just makes you realise how lucky you are to be fit and healthy and at home with your family and friends.
“In this job, your work is more than on the field. Supporters are the ones that keep this club going so when we have the chance to give back to them it’s good for us and makes us feel good about ourselves. You have to do your bit for the community and be a role model which gives you great satisfaction.”
The Irishman has almost become accustomed to spending Christmas time away from his family with his commitments as a footballer, and admits it can be tough to be away from home during the festive year.
He continued: “I understand to an extent, being away from your family at such a special time of the year is tough, but it’s part of my job and I’m aware of that, for some people they don’t have a choice.
“Their family and friends may come and visit them but I think especially as a kid you want to be at home opening presents with your family so for them not to be able to do that is sad to see.”