‘We started screaming when we realised he was coming on and didn’t sit down!’: Parents of Newcastle midfielder Elliot Anderson among scores of mums and dads who missed their son’s senior debut in FA Cup but kicked every ball watching at home on TV
- The FA Cup third round was bookended by two teenagers scoring on their debut
- Another, Newcastle midfielder Elliot Anderson, played strongly against Arsenal
- His parents have opened up on the pain of not being able to watch him in person
It is a moment no parent would ever miss – their son’s debut as a professional footballer. Except, because of Covid-19, that was the sad reality for scores of mums and dads during the FA Cup weekend.
The third round fixtures were bookended by two teenagers scoring on their debut, Louie Barry of Aston Villa and Alfie Devine of Spurs.
Another, Newcastle midfielder Elliot Anderson, made his senior bow in front of the biggest audience of all, live on BBC One’s Match of the Day on Saturday evening.
Newcastle’s Elliot Anderson (centre, No 57) made his senior debut against Arsenal on Saturday
The 18-year-old’s parents, Iain and Helen, were 300 miles from Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in Whitley Bay when they realised their boy was about to come on as an 81st-minute substitute. Their other sons – Louis, 21 and Wil, 19 – were with them in the family living room.
Iain said: ‘We heard the commentator say DeAndre Yedlin was coming on as a third sub and thought, “Ah, that’s it, he won’t get on now”.
‘But then the camera cut to the touchline and Elliot was stood with his strip on. The shock we got. We all screamed and started jumping up and down.’
There were tears, too.
The midfielder, 18, impressed BBC viewers with his composure, fearlessness and physicality
However, his parents Iain and Helen described their pain at not being able to watch him live
‘I started crying,’ added Helen, whose father, Geoff Allen, was part of Newcastle’s 1969 Fairs Cup-winning side.
‘We have never missed any of Elliot’s games. To see him appear on the TV like that, it was surreal.
‘We do feel like we’ve missed out on something, but at the moment you just have to accept it. It’s part of what we’re all going through. The bonus was the boys were with us. Once Elliot was on, none of us sat down.’
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side eventually triumphed 2-0 against the Magpies in the third round tie
Then there was his chance to win it, a shot from inside the area that was blocked.
‘You’re so nervous,’ continued Iain. ‘You just hope he doesn’t put a foot wrong. But then his chance, we all screamed as it ran to him.’
The tie looked to be heading for a penalty shootout until Arsenal scored twice in extra-time.
Helen added: ‘I’m terrible watching penalties. I was panicking thinking my boy could be taking one live on the BBC! He’s since told me he would have offered as well. I don’t think I could have watched that.’
Elliot was home by 11.30pm and the family stayed up to watch Match of the Day together.
‘It was so special,’ concluded Helen. ‘You just feel immense pride and happiness.’
For now, the family will continue to follow Elliot on TV.
But Iain said: ‘He made his debut but his real debut will be in front of 52,000, that’s the way we’re looking at it. As much as we loved Saturday, we hope that we’ve still got that to come. As a parent, you dream of that day.’
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