Baggies stars brought early Christmas cheer to youngsters at Sandwell Hospital as they dropped in for a festive visit to the children’s ward.
Young patients shouted with delight first-squad team members arrived with club mascots Baggie Bird and Albi alongside Father Christmas.
James Morrison, Jonas Olsson, Zoltan Gera, Boaz Myhill and Goran Popov gave out toys, games and Baggies merchandise before chatting and having their photographs taken with the children and their parents.
First to get a present was 11-month-old Keanna Marriott. Her father, Aaron, promised not to open the present until Christmas Day. Aaron, 32, of Cobham Road, said: “Keanna is a little too young to understand at the moment but I think it is great what the club has done here. It is a lovely Christmas present for all of the children.”
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Zoltan Gera said: “It’s difficult because they are in hospital and have problems but hopefully we can put some smiles on their faces.
“I went through a difficult period as well when my daughter Hanna was in hospital three years ago, when she was three months old – that was difficult for us.
“She was okay after a few days. It’s difficult because you don’t know how long they are going to be in, the parents have to stay and everyone just wants to get home.
“It’s not a nice feeling and if someone coming to the hospital gets them smiling and they receive presents that’s good for the children.”
Midfielder James Morrison also met with Lilly Mai Fendall, five, of Tipton, who has been treated for a virus.
Mother Leanne Gould, 22, said: “She has been really excited every since she heard what was going to happen.
“It has been great to meet with the players. It is something to remember.”
James asked Lilly Mai what she wanted for Christmas and she told him a pink scooter.
Defender Goran Popov chatted to the family of Paige Burke, five, of Wednesbury, and gave a game for her to play with when she felt better. Her mother Lisa, 23, said: “It has been a treat for everyone.”
Players also met Callum Gibson, 12, of Hill Top, who helped raise £150 towards the presents through a sponsored goal event. The Wood Green Academy pupil took part in the challenge through his club. Wednesbury Sports Union, and scored 63 goals.
He said he was delighted to meet his heroes who all posed for pictures with him.
Captain Jonas Olsson met the family of Jade Williams, two, of West Bromwich, and Zoltan Gera chatted to Alyiah Kauser, six, of Cambridge Road, Smethwick.
Olsson said: “It put things in perspective. I always enjoy these appearances and it’s nice to think you might give them a better Xmas. We did these things in Holland and Sweden. It’s very important to do that – we do a lot of appearances throughout the year but this is one we all look forward to and appreciate.
“Albion is at the forefront in that respect. They understand the power of football and those of us lucky enough to play it and what we can give to society.”
And it wasn’t just children who met the players as nurses Lisa Taylor and Jodie Drinkwater gave James Morrison a Christmas peck on the cheek. Jodie said: “Everyone looks forward to the players paying a visit. It really brightens things up and the children are always so excited to see them.”
Albion chief Mark Jenkins said: “Sandwell General is the nearest hospital to The Hawthorns and provides a great service to many Albion supporters.
“Christmas is an extremely difficult time of year for children to be in hospital and I hope the players’ visit will help boost the morale of the young patients and their families.”