A League One football club boss has been praised for writing a heatwarming letter to a superfan who suffers from depression and anxiety.
Life-long Barnsley FC supporter Chris Ryder’s mental health issues were first triggered following the death of his older brother Simon in 2010, who passed away from a heart attack.
The 30-year-old’s depression worsened when his dad, William, 64, died from cancer in 2013.
Chris’ dad was an avid Barnsley supporter who took Chris to his first ever match in September 1996, and despite the Tykes losing 3-1 at home to Grimsby Town FC, he has been a fan ever since.
In the letter, the club’s chief executive officer Gauthier Ganaye referenced how Chris had been a long-standing fan of the Tykes and how it was the South Yorkshire club’s turn to ‘return the favour’ for years of loyalty.
The Frenchman told him, ‘my office door is always open’ and cited the MIND charity, which promotes mental health awareness and are an English Football League partner this season.
M Ganaye also quipped how the club had got a handsome ‘sell-on’ fee following former centre back’s Alfie Mawson’s reported £20million signing to Fulham.
Chris has told of how more teams should follow suit to help break the ‘mental health taboo’ that still exists in football.
He recently took to Twitter to share the demons he has fought since the loss of two prominent figures in his life, which was picked up on by Barnsley FC.
Chris said: ‘I didn’t think anything [about the letter] until I opened it and saw the club badge. I thought “uh oh, what have I done”.
‘I’m known to be cheeky to the admin team on Twitter, in funny way.
‘Other than the tweets above and a councillor a few years ago I don’t really open up, I’m a rather reserved person. I usually keep things bottled up so that I don’t get a reaction, I always thought it would make me come across as weak.
‘I now know the EFL [English Football League] are working with MIND but until I saw it on the letter I wasn’t aware.
‘I think just spreading more on social media, even the odd poster in the toilets will reach more people than they’re aware.’
posted an image of the heartwarming message on Twitter with the caption ‘best football club in the world’.
The letter in full:
‘Sorry for sending you a letter at random, but I felt like I wanted to reach out to you and get in touch.
‘I’ve noticed through social media that you’ve had a bit of a hard time recently, I’m not sure what it is but I hope everything improves for you as soon as possible.
‘You’ve been a fan of the club for many years and always supported us, so we want you to know that if the favour needs returning and we need to support you, please do let us know.
‘You are welcome to swing by any time. My office door is always open and we’ve finally got a new coffee machine, a huge thanks to Alfie Mawson for that!
‘Alternatively, you may have noticed the squiggle on the back of the player lettering on the shirts? It’s for the MIND charity.
‘They are an ER partner this season and do some really great work. I’ve included their contact details below. Keep supporting the Reds, Chris. We’ll keep supporting you.’
He continued: The letter itself was a big shock and also gave me the details for MIND which I never thought to look into.
‘After sharing the letter, the support I’ve had from friends, strangers and even professional football players is unreal.
‘The amount of love for Barnsley from other clubs fans in unbelievable. I don’t think anyone has really seen anything like this before. Fans not customers.’
Scores of fans took to social media to share their support for what was labelled a ‘great gesture’.
Emily Christelow wrote on Twitter: ‘Fantastic @GGanaye – a real statement not only that the club is there for its fans but also that we absolutely have to talk openly and look after each other.
‘I hope you’re doing ok @CWRyder and on any day you’re not know you can turn left or right at Oakwell and let someone know.’
Ollie Bayliss added: ‘Absolutely superb! Credit to Gauthier Ganaye and @BarnsleyFC for this! Hope other @EFL clubs are embracing their @MindCharity partnership like this.’
Dave Cooper said: ‘Superb, well done @GGanaye & @BarnsleyFC.
‘Chris, don’t know you at all fella, but been in dark places at times before. Never be afraid to reach out for help, as you can see support is all around us.’
Phil.I.P said: ‘Hope that you are on the up now Chris. Having gone through anxiety myself I know how awful it can be and wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
‘Great that you have been able to talk about it pal; it definitely helps. Take care of ursen.’
Mr Ganaye took over as the chief executive of Barnsley last summer and was tasked with handling the take over by a consortium led by Chinese businessman Chien Lee and American Paul Conway.