A NINE-YEAR-OLD football fan put pen to paper this month to show support to one of his sporting idols – who was playing decades before he was even born.

George Henderson, from Little Leigh, is a Sunderland fan who is obsessed with the team that won the 1973 FA Cup – the Black Cats’ last major tournament success.

Northwich Guardian:

The 1973/74 Sunderland team with the FA Cup

So when the family of Dave Watson announced the cup-winning defender was suffering from dementia and the club appealed to fans to show their support for him, George decided to get involved.

He sent a letter to the former Sunderland and England centre back and also enclosed photocopies of memorabilia from the 1972/1973 season from his collection, including newspaper clippings and photographs.

The letter said: “Thank you for being one of my footballing inspirations and giving me the SAFC ’73 squad and for winning the FA Cup Final – I just adore you all.

Northwich Guardian:

Nine-year-old George Henderson writing to his hero

“No matter what ever happens you have created memories for everyone. They will never be forgotten.”

In an interview with BBC Look North, Dave Watson said he was ‘amazed’ by the support he had received from fans, giving a special mention to George’s letter.

“It’s phenomenal. It’s amazing that he’s even read my letter,” said George, who met another of his idols last year in the shape of goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery.

Northwich Guardian:

George also enclosed pictures of Dave Watson playing for Sunderland and England in the 70s

“I don’t mind if Dave Watson writes back and only answers one question, because that’d be the whole world to me. It’d be amazing to learn another fact about SAFC and amazing Dave Watson was able to remember it.”

George is also hoping to raise awareness for the issue of dementia in football among young players just like him.

Northwich Guardian:

Dave Watson challenging Joe Jordan and Alex McLeish in a match between England and Scotland

“Loads of other players have got dementia from heading the ball,” he said, referring to Bobby Charlton, Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles.

“Back then the balls were like leather boots but in a round shape. Today we’ve got better quality balls, but still – heading is heading.”