Liam Norcliffe's Chesterfield FC column: PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor should do the decent thing and call family of Spireites' legend Ernie Moss before he finally resigns
“We love you Ernie, we do.”
That was the chant that rang around the Proact on Saturday in the 70th minute to honour the club’s record goalscorer, who celebrated his 70th birthday last weekend.
It was a touching moment as all four sides of the stadium rose to their feet and applauded Moss, a gentle giant who bagged 191 goals for the Spireites over three spells.
You won’t find another photograph taken over this sporting weekend, snapped by the DT’s Rebecca Havercroft, that pulls at the heartstrings more than this one.
It plays with your emotions as on the surface it looks to be a happy event, which it was, but yet when you take a second to think about it, it is extremely sad.
Surrounded by his loving family, including his daughters Nikki and Sarah either side of him, Ernie is grinning cheekily, and looking a little embarrassed.
I have looked at the photo several times since Saturday night and each time I feel happy, then sad, then angry, which I will come to later.
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As one supporter wrote on the DT’s Facebook page this week, Ernie would put his head where others would not put their feet.
As we all know, Ernie has a rare form of dementia, a horrible and cruel disease which will eventually take his life.
His eldest daughter Nikki has said she believes his 70th birthday could be his last, one can only imagine how difficult and heartbreaking that must be to admit.
His family have said for many years that they believe Ernie’s dementia was caused by him repeatedly heading the old leather footballs that were used during his career.
For a long time the Football Association and Professional Footballers’ Association, ignored claims that there could a link between former professional footballers and dementia.
This is despite several members of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team suffering with the disease.
While a coroner ruled that former West Brom striker, Jeff Astle, who died in 2002, suffered brain damage as a result of heading heavy leather footballs.
Eventually, in 2017, the FA and PFA commissioned a study into the link between dementia and former footballers.
The study compared the causes of death of 7,676 former Scottish male professional football players who were born between 1900 and 1976 against those of more than 23,000 matched individuals from the general population.
It found that former professional footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to die of dementia than people of the same age range in the general population.
It was no surprise to the Moss family, it was too much of a coincidence for there not to be any link.
Looking back at the photo of Ernie on Saturday makes me angry when you think about how much he has been let down by the PFA, the union which is supposed to stand up for its members.
The Moss family has had a call from ex-Spireite and former PFA chairman, Ritchie Humphreys, and they did eventually pay for a shower room at Ernie’s home, but, in my opinion, that is nowhere near enough for a man who will truly have given his life to football.
It is an absolute disgrace that the Moss family has never even had a phone call from PFA chief executive, Gordon Taylor, who in 2016-17 received a basic salary of £1.2m and an eye-watering bonus of £777,000.
Taylor, 74, announced in March he would be resigning from his role, which he has held for 38 years, when a review of the organisation ends. When he finally clears out his desk, he should do the decent thing and call the Moss family and apologise.