An 87-year-old mascot was among 11 who were the oldest by decades to ever walk out on the pitch for Manchester United.
The local fans, aged between 61 and 87, greeted the players before the game with Watford at Old Trafford as part of a campaign to highlight loneliness.
United’s director of partnerships Sean Jefferson said they wanted to encourage fans to speak to older people.
“Any small gesture and interaction can play a part in helping to help tackle loneliness amongst our older generation,” he said.
More than two million people over the age of 75 live alone in the UK, according to Age UK.
The choice of elderly mascots, who have received support from the charity, is part of Cadbury’s “Donate Your Words” campaign, which is encouraging people to “make a difference to the lives of older people”, a firm spokeswoman said.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham added: “Loneliness is much closer to home than many people realise, and any actions like these to raise its profile is a big step in the right direction.”