The daughter of Port Vale hero Ernie Moss has told of her love and joy after being able to see her dad as he recovers from coronavirus.
Ernie, aged 70, has a rare form of dementia called Pick’s Disease. His family hasn’t been able to see him in his care home for more than two months since lockdown, a worrying time that became much worse when he was diagnosed with coronavirus three weeks ago.
But he is getting much stronger and has been able to come to the lounge area over the last week so his family could see him through the window.
That meant so much to them, as his daughter Nikki Trueman explained.
She told The Sentinel: “When lockdown first started, we were able to Facetime dad in his care home but, because he can’t speak, it is just us babbling on to him saying, ‘hi dad, we love you’, and he smiles at us.
“As soon as they had confirmed cases in the home, they put all of the residents into their own room to try to minimise the risk. Then dad became ill which was such a horrendous time for us, since then we had not been able to Facetime him at all.
“You feel so helpless.
“We couldn’t be with him while he was ill and that was the most harrowing part. You just want to care for your loved ones, even sitting and holding their hand. The staff have cared for him absolutely amazingly, but you feel so helpless.
“My sister Sarah would phone in the morning and then I would phone after tea time every day to check his temperature. But you find yourself apologising to the nursing staff; you know what an immense task they have with everybody and you don’t want to be bothering them but that’s the only way you can find out how your loved ones are.
“It is really hard for everyone in the same situation we have been in.”
Ernie has improved greatly, even over the last week from when his family were first able to see him through the window at the home in Chesterfield. His strength improved so he was able to return to the lounge on Tuesday, so Nikki and her family dashed down there.
She explained: “My mum and sister had been a week previously and I think it was the first time he had been in the lounge. My mum was really upset because dad looked really ill and frail.
“Even with his dementia he doesn’t look ill. He has always looked big and fit and strong, so my mum was really upset.
“So for us to be able to see him and for him to be so happy and smiley….I was able to phone my mum and say he looks loads better. It was a massive relief for us, just to see his smiling face was a joy.”
Ernie is a legend at Chesterfield where he is the club’s record scorer with 191 goals over three spells. But he is also a hero at Port Vale from his two years at Vale Park after signing for £12,000 from the Spireites in June 1981.
He was top scorer and player of the year in the 1981/82 season and netted 28 goals in 84 appearances in all competitions before he was sold to Lincoln City for £1,500 in March 1983.
He was admired, not only for his goals, but his bravery as a player and his contribution at a time when John McGrath and John Rudge were rebuilding the club.
In recent seasons, Chesterfield have made their home games with Port Vale an ‘Ernie Moss day’ to celebrate him and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
Nikki says the ovation her dad received from both Chesterfield and Port Vale supporters meant a huge amount to the family, including her own children who realised how well regarded their granddad is in the football world.
She said: “Every time Vale have been at Chesterfield there has always been such a good rapport.
“We took dad on the pitch and were able to walk around and hear the applause, not just from the Chesterfield fans but also the Port Vale fans.
“I think this was one of the first times my children realised. Before it was just a case of ‘this is granddad’. But to see the love and support is so lovely, it really is.
“Before he became really ill, we always took him to Chesterfield and, when they were away, we would take him to some of his other old haunts.
“Me and my husband took him over to the Vale for a match one snowy day and he loved it.
“Although he couldn’t speak, he knew. He sat in front of the car with my husband who was driving. “We went over the tops and came down towards the ground and there was a sign that said ‘football traffic.
“But Dad tapped my husband’s leg and pointed left. He took us down these back streets, that he and Bob Newton, must have travelled, and he brought us out at the ground.
“I can remember coming over to loads of games when I was young and dad was playing there. Port Vale holds a special place in his heart as well.”