WHAT’S in a name?
Quite a lot when you are a broken-hearted young Sunderland AFC fan, whose hero has legged it at short-notice.
Five-year-old Billy Ellison begged his dad to get the name of his favourite player, Asamoah Gyan, printed on his new home strip.
Dad, Carl, also a SAFC fan, initially refused amid rumours that the Ghana international was going to be transferred.
But after the club quelled any fears earlier this month about his departure – before the unexpected change in circumstances – Carl agreed to go ahead and get Gyan (below) branded on his son’s shirt.
Billy had already named his pet rabbit after his football hero, who arrived at the Stadium of Light from French side Rennes for £13million only last year.
“He’s his favourite player. He idolises him,” said Carl, 33.
“We get to as many home matches as possible and Billy has been a fan since he was really little.
“I held off and held off when Billy wanted his name on the strip.
“Then when the club said he wasn’t leaving, I got it done.
“Three days later, it was announced he was going!”
On September 10, the club confirmed that Gyan would leave on a season long loan to the United Arab Emirates team Al-Ain.
“I know the football club can’t be responsible for what names you get put on your strip,” said Carl. “But they are responsible for telling us he wasn’t leaving.”
He was less than impressed after he paid £30 for the strip emblazoned with the name of the outgoing Black Cat.
“Billy is not very happy at all about it and I don’t think the shop would give us a refund,” carl added.
“They would know, like us, that it’s worthless now.”
Carl said he has tried to contact the club, hoping for response or consolation.
“I emailed them on September 12 and 14, but I’ve heard nothing back.
“That’s really annoyed me that they have not got in touch.
“It would be nice if they would give something to appease Billy.
“I think from now on people will only be getting their own names on shirts with the way the club is going with the constant transfers,” said Carl.
He added: “I don’t know what we are going to do about the rabbit – either give it a new name or send it on loan to the Emirates.”
A spokeswoman for SAFC said: “If Carl contacts us directly we will reply to him.
“I’m not sure how he has contacted the club previously, but we always reply to any supporter correspondence.”