Every child dreams of watching their team play for the first time, but for one young Southampton fan, his dream turned into a nightmare.
Tom Sherburn had travelled for four hours with his family from Somerset to watch his beloved Saints get washed away with every raindrop inside St Mary’s as they succumbed to a 9-0 thrashing by a marauding Leicester.
It was not how his dad Mike had imagined things would pan out when he presented the 13-year-old with a voucher promising him his first ever visit to Southampton.
“He’d waited so long for it. Just walking to the ground, you could see his face light up at how fantastic it was going to be, with all the swirling rain and the lights and TV cameras and lots of people.
The Sherburns looked on in disbelief as Saints conceded in the first 10 minutes, had Ryan Bertrand sent off and then completely capitulated, shipping five goals before half-time.
Hat-tricks from Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy, as well as goals from Ben Chilwell, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison, helped the rampant visitors equal the biggest Premier League win, while also breaking the record for the most convincing away success in the English top flight.
“We saw people leaving at 12 minutes in, and I am quite proud of him as the first time he said ‘can we go home now dad?’ was in the 80th minute,” recalls Mike, who is a Norwich fan.
“He was shouting encouragement, telling the players to get in space and if he can do that, he can survive being a football fan. He is an emotional kid, he feels stuff and I was worried after the first goal went in, but he said he wants to go back when we play a team we can beat, like Watford!”
Reflecting on his son’s remarkable ability to draw on the positives of his side’s ghastly night at St Mary’s, Mike, a minsiter, says Tom is happy he got to witness a record-breaking game, see England players and witness two hat-tricks.
And the youngster could be forgiven for switching his allegiance to the Foxes, but his dad insists Tom is determined to remain loyal so that he can see them “rise again” and plans to write a letter to Southampton chairman Jisheng Gao and “have a word with him”.
“Tom said he might play as Leicester on Fifa now, though,” Mike added.