Some of you may know Dave Hodgson, some of you may not, some of you may have got to know him over the past 12-18 months or so. If you’ve got to know him through the internet, then you’re probably a user of the social networking site, Twitter. Some of you may use it, some of you may avoid it at all costs. If you’re the latter, you’re going to have to bear with me but you can still take a lot of heart from this obituary.
I’ve never met Dave, we had a few mutual friends including Matt Harrison, Molineux Blue, a former fanzine contributor who always stops for a chat when we’re selling the magazine on the bridge. The thing is, I could have met Dave and missed the chance. I was picking up tickets at the DW last Christmas and I saw someone stood a few yards away who I guessed to be Dave by his twitter profile. But then I thought ‘nah can’t be he’s in Dubai’ and my natural shyness took over. I’m always a bit hesitant about going over to speak to someone you’ve only seen in a picture, at least in my eyes in case I get it wrong, as believe it or not, when I’m not flogging fanzines I am quite a shy person. Clearly I regret this quite a bit now.
It was only when I was back in the car I’d remembered he’d talked online about coming home from Dubai, where he lived, over Christmas and yes, it probably was him. He didn’t have cancer then, or at least it wasn’t at the advanced stages but I remember he was a big, strapping lad and was smiling through the bitter cold winter we had last Christmas. I got over my regret though because I was convinced me and Dave would meet soon.
We sparred a lot online about football matters, well Wigan Athletic to be more precise. As Dave himself often said, he didn’t know which was more painful, the cancer or being a Wigan Athletic fan. The great irony is that Dave would never, ever moan about his cancer, his melanoma, or his general lot in life to be 41 years old and told it’s probably your last one. He only ever moaned about Wigan Athletic. Just like we all do. It’s why we all follow Wigan Athletic, it gives us something to moan about. Dave really did have something to moan about in life. But he rarely ever did.
Dave would explain at great length (well in 140 character chunks) everything that was happening to his body and the numerous surgical procedures he went through to help fight the cancer. Just describing what he was going through was painful for many people to read I guess, I know it was for me but he fought through it all, time and time again with amazing bravery, making major surgery sound trivial and using humour to get himself through it.
I tend to put a lot of daft, jokey, cynical tweets on twitter and just the other week Dave said ‘you make me smile, keep ‘em coming’. The truth is it made me smile knowing I was making him smile and whenever Wigan Athletic have won a game in the last few months (rare I know), or even got a point against the big guns, I’ve been pleased, but also thought of Dave. I moan incessantly about modern football and all that is wrong with it but knowing that a football team can put a smile on someone’s face is a powerful thing and Wigan Athletic were Dave’s inspiration just as he was an inspiration to many others.
It wasn’t difficult to sense from his tweets that things were getting worse for Dave in the last few weeks, and although I spend way too much of my time tweeting (as the missus will testify) whenever I had a look on my phone I was careful to check that Dave had tweeted – to check he was still up and about and fighting his illness. Despite this, I was convinced he’d get through it, loads of us talked about him coming over to watch a Latics match in the New Year and having a big party for Dave. He didn’t necessarily want a party, it was more something that the #wafc online community demanded because so many people wanted to meet the big man as his story had touched so many hearts. It was non-negotiable in my eyes and many other people’s, we always knew it was going to happen.
But Cancer doesn’t listen to logic and whatever happened in the last 48 hours we don’t exactly know but we know it won’t have been down to Dave not fighting hard enough because the man fought like no other to try and beat this evil, nasty disease which afflicts so many lives, many of them at such a tragically young age.
Dave was 41 – I could be wrong there as for all the football chats we had I don’t know an awful lot about him but I’ll not be far off. He also leaves a wife, Natalie and a daughter. There’s a lot of rubbish on social media at this time of year, lots of people moaning about being ill with colds, having no money, being bored and so on and so on. When you read about somebody who is terminally ill and still living life to the full with a smile on their face it puts all the trivial moans into perspective.
I’d like to think that Dave Hodgson has taught me and others to appreciate daily what each of us has in life and learn not to take things for granted. Not only is life short but you never know exactly how short it is and making the most out of it is the least that you owe to the world and yourself. Dave certainly did that and will be sorely missed far beyond the realms of his friends and family amongst hundreds if not thousands of Latics fans and football fans. As a man, he charmed me many times with his spirit and humour and downright stubbornness in fighting a deadly killer and I’ve got upset more than once just writing these words about someone I’d never met but I felt Dave was worthy of writing about even though not everyone reading this knew of him.
He is a sad loss for Wigan Athletic fans everywhere but also an inspiration and a reminder of what an amazing football club we follow. A true family club that sticks together and where we look out for one another. I hope Dave’s family do not mind me writing these words and they do not cause offence, I’m kind of making an assumption that I’m speaking on behalf of many voices within the Latics community given what I’ve read this morning. I’m sure myself like many others feels sad but that we all also cannot imagine the pain that the Hodgson family are suffering today. I also know that Dave himself will be at peace now, and as we all know he has fought longer and harder than anyone could have imagined possible. My thoughts are with his family and their tragic loss. Keep the Faith.
Rest in Peace Dave Hodgson
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