The parents of a baby who died in infancy paid a special tribute by placing a cardboard cut-out of him in the stands of their favourite football club.
Jack Stout was just five months old when, in August 2015, he died from sudden infant death syndrome.
Jack’s parents, Christine Lamb and Stephen Stout, had dreamed of one day taking him to Wigan matches.
So when, with matches closed to fans because of lockdown restrictions, Wigan offered the chance for fans to pay to have cardboard cut-outs in the stands for matches, Ms Lamb seized on the opportunity.
“The kids wanted the dog at first,” Ms Lamb, 32, told the PA news agency.
“And then we just decided, ‘we’ll get Jack because he’s never been to a Latics game’.”
Jack’s parents first connected on Twitter over their shared passion for the Latics and eventually met up during the team’s run to the FA Cup final in 2013.
They were married the following year and Ms Lamb, who has three other children aged 15, 12 and nine, found out she was pregnant.
“We were happy,” she said. “My life was set up for once. It was so happy.
“And then Jack passed away in August 2015, suddenly in his sleep.”
The couple separated in the aftermath of Jack’s death.
“Everything just got too much for us after losing Jack,” Ms Lamb said.
The pair are still in contact and were pleased to see their son’s image inside the DW Stadium for Saturday’s Championship game against Blackburn.
“He would have been a season ticket holder like the other kids, but that was never to happen,” Ms Lamb said. “So it was nice that he got the chance to go there, even if we couldn’t be there with him, even if it is in the form of a cardboard cut-out.”
And the club even pulled out a 2-0 victory to mark the occasion, gaining vital points to pull them clear of the Championship relegation zone.
“It was amazing,” Ms Lamb said. “I wanted us to win, I thought it would be more special.
“I was a bit upset before the game because I knew it would be Jack’s first game – obviously not in person but in spirit. It was just the win, and to have players tweeting me, ex-players tweeting me – it was nice.”
Among those to get in touch with Ms Lamb were club captain Sam Morsy – who said he hoped the club “did him proud” – former Latics players Lee McCulloch and Shaun MacDonald, and Paralympic footballer David Clarke.
Wigan, meanwhile, refunded the fee paid for the cut-out when they discovered the story behind it.
“To me, I think they’re the best club ever,” Ms Lamb said.
And she even got support from Blackburn fans, despite the result.
“When they’d seen the story, they said it puts it in perspective,” Ms Lamb said. “The Blackburn fans were really nice. I didn’t have a negative comment.
“Everyone’s got behind it and it’s just been lovely – it’s lovely that our little boy’s still being remembered.”