Joss and John Cumming with Mike Pero Nelson Giant Ali Granger, centre, ahead of the NBL basketball season which starts next month. Photo: Andrew Board.

Giants repay support to fans

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Over the years, Joss Cumming has spent countless hours in the Trafalgar Centre screaming for her Giants – now the team are returning the favour and supporting her.

Joss has been a regular at Mike Pero Nelson Giants’ home games for around 15 years, sitting behind the goal post, wearing a blue wig and known to give plenty of unsolicited advice to referees.

After getting married in late 2015, her husband John started heading along as well, holding up a whiteboard with various slogans depending on the team the Giants were playing.

Joss says she’s been a season ticket holder for years and loves supporting the team. “They’re so good. They’re our local team and you get to know them, too, over the years. They’re a good bunch of guys, they get around with the crowd.”

But last May the Cummings had to put basketball to the side as John suffered a heart attack while at work.

As he fell he cracked his head on the floor causing a brain bleed. Paramedics later said if it wasn’t for a co-worker doing CPR before they got there, he probably wouldn’t have survived.

John says he doesn’t remember the incident. “All I know is that I was at work and I’d come back to the warehouse from some reason and, in the process of picking up paperwork and trying to get something done, I had a minor heart attack, but I fell backwards onto the concrete floor and cracked open my head. The warehouse manager managed to keep me going until the ambulance arrived about five minutes later.”

While in Wellington Hospital, between intensive care and head injury unit, Joss was bedside relaying scores and updates from the Giants games to an unconscious John. “It was one of the things we spoke about, how they were getting on, who scored the points,” says Joss.

John suffered another set-back in December and now has to wear headgear to cover up a hole in his skull until a titanium plate will fill it.

It’s been a tough few months for the family but with the Giants season rolling around again they were looking forward to a welcome distraction.

And hearing of the tough year the Cummings endured, the Giants wanted to make sure cost wasn’t a barrier to them attending games, giving them season tickets for the 2017 season.

Giant Ali Granger says it was the least they could do. “From the Giants, that’s what we try to be about. It’s not just about selling the most tickets. Giving season tickets to two people who are die-hard fans, that’s what makes the Giants special.”

The Mike Pero Nelson Giants tip off the regular season on March 16 in Invercargill, the first home game is two days later on Saturday, March 18, and you can bet that sitting behind the hoop will be Joss and John, screaming as hard as they can.