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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Bereaved Carlisle Utd star Lee Miller gets emotional reception from fans

It was one of the most emotional moments Brunton Park has seen.

Lee Miller photo
Lee Miller with his sons

A thunderous applause rang out on Saturday as thousands of Carlisle United fans gave both their thanks and their support to grieving star striker Lee Miller.

Four days after Miller’s wife, Donna, died of a brain tumour, the bereaved player brought his sons onto United’s pitch at half-time during Saturday’s victory over Exeter.

The 6,029 crowd cheered as the 28-year-old’s oldest sons, Aaron and Lennon, took shots at the empty goal at the Warwick Road End.

Miller also cradled one-year-old Bobby as he walked onto the pitch lasting nearly two minutes – as he was presented with the News & Star’s player-of-the-year award by editor David Helliwell. The Scottish player later said it had been an extraordinarily moving day and had given him and his family strength at the end of a traumatic week.

Fans also felt the intense emotion of the occasion.

Castle Carrock man Tom Speight, 43, spoke for many when he said: “It’s fantastic to seem him get this applause from all the fans. He thoroughly deserves it.

“But I am sure he appreciates the applause. He is held in real affection here. He’ll always have a special place in our hearts.”

Another fan, Steven Woodridge, 41, from Wigton, said: “It’s obviously a difficult situation but he has conducted himself very well. He’s done well to be here and he’s a real asset to the club.”

Younger fans were also full of praise for Miller.

They included 15-year-old Josh Young, who said: “He has been a great player for Carlisle and he’s very strong as a man. We and the rest of the Carlisle fans think he’s amazing.”

Owen Dixon, 14, added: “This must be a tough time for him but he has shown a lot of strength.”

Posting on Twitter after the game, Miller wrote: “Can’t thank the staff, players and of course the fans for the amazing support at the game. My boys will never forget this day. Donna would have been so proud of them and smiling down on Lennon smashing the ball into the top corner! Thank you so much #ripdonna.”

Later, he added: “My boys have just turned to me and said it’s been the best day ever! Thanks everybody for making it special. #goosebumpsallover #ripdonna.”

Miller and his three sons reappeared on the pitch after the game with the rest of the Carlisle squad as they performed a lap of honour after the final home game of the season, which United won 4-1. The Blues’ supporters have flooded the centre-forward with sympathy and kind-hearted gestures since he announced on Twitter that Donna, who he married in 2008, had passed away.

In the 14th minute of Saturday’s game – Miller’s squad number is 14 – supporters in the Warwick Road End began a chant of “There’s only one Lee Miller,” which continued for more than 15 minutes.

And before the game Miller publicly thanked a supporter who had started an online whip-round which has seen fans donate more than £200 to charity, with Miller nominating the Teenage Cancer Trust to receive the money.

He said fan Kristina Carr, who set up the donation side, had made “such a thoughtful and kind gesture.”

Fans can donate if they have a PayPal account by going to www.paypal.com, selecting the ‘send money’ option and sending it under the gift category.

The donation must be sent to InDonnasMemory@gmail.com.

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