A FOOTBALL fan left fighting for life after being brain damaged by a single punch has vowed to be home in time to see his beloved team play in the next Steel City derby - as his violent attacker begins a three-year jail term.
Sheffield Wednesday supporter Kevin Taylor, aged 51, known on the terraces as Sid, was put into a coma by thug Paul Bennett who launched an unprovoked attack after an Owls away fixture.
Sid, who followed Wednesday at home and away, was unconscious even before he hit the ground. He suffered devastating brain injuries and still needs round-the-clock care.
He is currently receiving treatment at a specialist brain injury rehabilitation unit in Chester - and friends say it could be months before he is allowed home to Swinton, Rotherham.
But the football fan is hopeful of making it back to Hillsborough in time to see Sheffield Wednesday play Sheffield United in the next derby.
Friend Jane Creek said: “Kev wants to be fit for next season and is already looking forward to the derby.
“He is doing really well in Chester and can’t wait to get back to watching Wednesday.”
The life-changing impact of the horrifying attack on Sid, in the wake of the Owls’ tie at Hartlepool last August, was revealed for the first time in court.
He suffered multiple skull fractures when he was punched and knocked to the ground by Bennett, 24, of St Oswald Street, Hartlepool.
Sid had to be airlifted to hospital, where he spent almost two weeks in a coma.
He underwent brain surgery and, after receiving initial hospital treatment in intensive care and high dependency units in Middlesbrough, where he battled for his life, he was later transferred to Rotherham Hospital.
He was then moved again to Chester, where he is now being cared for in a rehabilitation unit.
Teesside Crown Court heard his thinking ability has been dramatically affected by the attack, and he needs prompting to do everyday basics like eating and washing.
Richard Wilson, prosecuting, said: “He has suffered very severe traumatic brain injuries.
“There is an indication he will never make a full recovery.”
Paul Cleasby, defending, told the court: “It was a single punch that caused the victim to fall to the ground and strike his head.”
Judge Howard Crowson said the injuries inflicted on Sid were “quite dreadful”.
Bennett was jailed for three years and five months after admitting causing grievous bodily harm. He also pleaded guilty to affray, and unlawfully wounding another Owls fan, Stanley Ryman, by breaking his nose.
Sid’s friends and relatives have been posting regular updates on his condition on a Facebook page set up for well-wishers.
They say he has been using the hospital gym in Chester and working out on a treadmill and rowing machine to build his strength back up. He has also been gardening and is able to leave the centre every day to buy a newspaper.
Sid was caught up in “no man’s land” between two sets of rival fans who clashed after Wednesday beat Hartlepool 5-0 at the start of last season.
Bennett had just left a nearby pub when he launched his attacks. He and five fellow thugs have also been issued with football banning orders preventing them from attending matches in the UK or abroad.