Joey Barton is grateful for a ‘reality check’ after his Fleetwood Town squad conducted their Christmas visits in the local community.
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Town made visits to Red Marsh School, Wyre Disability Day Centre, Fleetwood Hall Care Home and Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The squad split up, with three different sets of representatives making the journeys.
They handed out presents at Red Marsh to 90 children, including 30 replica shirts, while at Wyre Disability Day Centre the players joined in karaoke and made a donation. At Blackpool Victoria, presents were handed over to the Blue Skies Foundation’s ‘Give a Gift’ project.
Speaking ahead of Fleetwood’s League One clash against Rotherham United tomorrow (3pm), Barton felt it was important to take a wider perspective on life.
He said: “It’s always good to see people. You get a bit consumed with the results and your performance, and with winning during the season.
“At the school I went to, Red Marsh, there were a lot of kids with learning difficulties or disabilities and sometimes it does put things into perspective as to how fortunate you are, mainly to be healthy at this time of year.
“Christmas is a huge period for families and a really busy time for footballers. It is a period when football really comes into its own.
“It entertains a lot of people and a lot of people can come together via football.
“For us to get out in the community and try to put a bit of festivity into the local schools shows that we’re thinking of them at this time. And as a community-based club, that is the correct thing to do.
“I think the lads will have got a lot out of that, seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces, seeing the reaction towards them coming in and just paying them a visit. For me as coach, it was great to see the excitement.
“I’m not sure the teachers will be too pleased about the kids eating selection boxes at that time of the day!
“It was a great afternoon and something that really anchors the club as a part of the central hub in what is a community environment at Poolfoot.
“The further we can extend that the better because they are the lifeblood of the club. They are the future fans.
“It was great for the lads to see the impact that they have and how football can have an impact in the local community.”