Bristol Rovers and Millwall aren't two clubs you would associate with having any kind of relationship - but after Gas supporter Pete Broom sadly lost his life to COVID-19, Lions fan Phil Simmonds stepped in to ensure Pete's daughter could continue attending the Memorial Stadium.
Phil has kept an eye on the fortunes of The Gas since purchasing a ticket for a dramatic 4-3 win for Millwall in the west country in April 2017, and has remained on their e-mail list ever since - with their latest push ending with him partaking in an incredible act of generosity.
"My family and my beloved Millwall are the two big loves in my life, and I love both unconditionally, and passionately," Phil explained to Bristol Rovers' website. "Football is a huge part of my life, probably like every other fan. At Millwall, we have huge respect for the football family, because without rival teams, there would be no football. I have visited Rovers’ stadium with the club on four occasions, and I attended ‘that match’ on 30th April 2017 when Millwall beat Rovers 4-3 with an 85th-minute winner from Shaun Hutchinson to put us into the Play-Offs, through which we then ultimately beat Bradford City 1-0 at Wembley to secure promotion to The Championship.
"I bought a ticket in the home end because our allocation was sold out, but I went in peace and with total respect!"
After receiving an e-mail from the Memorial Stadium, Phil responded and asked if he could purchase a season ticket for a young Rovers fan whose family could not afford it at this moment in time. After Pete's sad passing, Phil has honoured his word and bought a ticket for his daughter and guardian to attend fixtures next season.
Phil added: "I received another e-mail checking everything is OK with me in these tough times of the lockdown. That touched me - Bristol Rovers are a very caring, very special and unique football club. I replied to the email confessing that I am actually a Millwall fan, and as a gesture of my thanks, guilt and apology for buying that ticket in the home end, I offered to sponsor a young Rovers fan's season ticket for 2020/21.
"I was informed by the commercial director of the devastating news that Pete had passed away, but that his daughter - same age as my youngest son - still wanted to come along with her uncle to support her football team. I am not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears on hearing that news, and of course I was delighted to pay for her season ticket, and that of her uncle for next season. I am frankly humbled and feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to help, and I will always be here for the family next season and the season after and so on.
"The Gas are now my second team, and I sincerely wish the family, and indeed all Rovers fans and the football club, all the very best for the future."
In response to this incredible act of generosity, Bristol Rovers have invited both Phil and his son as guests to a game at the Memorial Stadium once football resumes.
Fantastic work, Phil!