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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 July, 2003, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Football club signs 11-year-old
Team photo courtesy of Grimsby Town Football club
Will took his place among the team for the club's official photo
A football-mad father has broken the bank to fulfil his young son's dream of signing for Grimsby Town.

Rob McIlveen, 44, paid 2,150 to register 11-year-old Will as a player following an auction on the club's official website.

It means Will, from King's Lynn, Norfolk, appears in the official team photo and has a player profile on the Mariners website.

He has also been given a home and away kit and will be listed in every match day programme throughout the season.

Supposing they are promoted with two games to go - why not stick the kid on the substitutes bench?
Rob McIlveen
Grimsby-born Mr McIlveen told BBC News Online he had no intention of actually winning the auction when he first entered the bidding process.

He said: "I must confess that I went online to bid the thing up for them to 1,300, I thought if I bid someone else will bid higher.

"But then the boy decided it was an interesting proposition and I ended up bidding more - much to my bank manager's dismay."

The Mariners-mad pair found themselves in a stand-off against another bidder determined to claim the honour.

Winning bid

But when the mystery person dropped out at the 2,100 mark Mr McIlveen, who is Head of Psychology at Springwood School in Kings Lynn, was free to make his winning bid.

He added: "Clearly it's not that valuable being a Grimsby Town player - but we think it is."

Will, who plays as a defender for South Wooton Junior School, told BBC News Online he was "definitely excited" at the prospect of becoming a Mariner.

His friends do not know yet, but he added: "I think they'll be very pleased for me."

Fundraising effort

Grimsby Town was among the Football League clubs hit hard by the collapse of ITV Digital and runs regular fundraising efforts through its website.

Mr McIlveen said he was now looking for more ways to raise money for their beloved club, which he has supported for 36 years.

He has already enlisted unofficial club website - the Electronic Fish Cake - to sponsor Will's kit and has hinted at a campaign to get the youngster on the pitch.

"If he could get on for thirty seconds in the last game of the season then that would be some kind of record.

"Supposing they are promoted with two games to go - why not stick the kid on the substitutes bench?"

He said that Will's dream would be to play on 8 May against Tranmere - his birthday.

"But it is fair to say we are waiting on a striker crisis," he added.




SEE ALSO:
Promotion-chasers to play owner
25 Apr 03  |  South Yorkshire
Bugle honour for boy
08 May 03  |  South East Wales


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