Leigh Centurions boss Derek Beaumont has paid tribute to the “remarkable” cancer battler who helped kick off the club’s first home game of the season in inspiring fashion.
Riley Agent carried the match ball on to the pitch ahead of his team’s thrilling clash with Leeds Rhinos on Friday last week.
They really looked after us and Riley felt like a celebrityMum Pam
The little boy was chosen for the honour after Mr Beaumont heard how Riley beat cancer from his mum Pam’s employers, at Leigh firm Astley Hire, who sponsored the ball for the game.
Riley was diagnosed with an aggressive form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma stage 4s aged just ten days old, in November 2011.
After months of gruelling treatment, the tumour began to calcify, and just before his fifth birthday last year he was finally given the fantastic news that doctors are confident his cancer will not return.
The schoolboy, who lives in Leigh, was last to walk on to the pitch at Leigh Sports Village before the 8pm kick-off, proudly carrying the ball as he accompanied referee Jack Smith.
“It was fantastic, he absolutely loved it,” said Riley’s mum Pam, 37, who watched the game with Riley and his grandad, Phil Agent.
“We had a little tour before, he loved seeing the changing rooms and watching the players training as well.
“It was really busy in the tunnel beforehand, Riley was really excited.
“We met Derek Beaumont, the Leigh Centurions owner, and he was so nice.
“Every time he walked past us he’d give Riley a high five and have a little chat. He told him to focus all his lucky energy on the ball and think about the team winning.”
It was the Leigh Centurions’ first home game since being promoted to the Betfred Super League, and was televised live on Sky Sports.
A nerve shredding finish resulted in a disappointing 14-17 final score for the Leigh Centurions, but the game had kept fans enthralled from the start with the home team gaining an 8-0 lead within the first 15 minutes of play.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” said Pam, who trains Astley Hire clients to put up scaffolding. “Everyone was buzzing.”
Riley followed official match mascots Lucy Simpson and Ellie Mae Davies, both aged seven, through a guard of honour organised by Leigh Community Trust.
Pam added: “Everyone at the club was absolutely brilliant. They really looked after us and Riley felt like a celebrity.
“We’re going to frame his kit and the programme from the night. It was really special.”
Mr Beaumont said: “It was great to meet Riley and his family.
“He’s a remarkable young man to have come through so much with a huge smile on his face. We are so pleased to have been able to give him this opportunity and hope he’ll continue to support the club for years to come!”
Stephen Dorricott, Astley Hire’s managing director, said: “We were even more delighted when we heard from Derek that he wanted to let Riley carry the ball on to the pitch. It was such a kind gesture.”