Sid’S going to get the ball! Supporters of The Star-backed campaign to allow seriously injured Owls fan Kevin ‘Sid’ Taylor to present the match ball when Wednesday play United at Hillsborough are celebrating today after the club gave the thumbs up to the idea.
The campaign was masterminded by Dronfield builder Darryl Hancock, 41, an Owls fan who created a Facebook group after reading Sid’s story in The Star.
The 51-year-old from Swinton, Rotherham, is battling back from terrible brain injuries he suffered when he was attacked by a thug as he made his way home after Sheffield Wednesday’s game last August in Hartlepool.
Paul Bennett, 24, from Hartlepool, was jailed for three years for attacking Sid.
Darryl’s Give Sid the Ball campaign has been backed by thousands of fans from both sides of the city’s footballing divide. And now Sheffield Wednesday have confirmed that, if he is well enough, Sid will be invited to present the match ball before the rival city teams come face to face on derby day, Sunday, February 26.
The club’s director of communications Trevor Braithwaite told The Star: “Yes Sid is going to get the ball. As a club we had always backed the campaign but obviously the sponsorship rights for the game had been sold before it was launched and we needed to speak to the sponsors.
“We have now done that and I’m delighted to confirm that if Sid is well enough he will walk out onto the pitch to present the ball before the game against United.”
A year after he was attacked Sid is still undergoing treatment at a specialist hospital in Chester, where former players John Pearson and Lawrie Madden paid him a visit. And they found him in very good spirits.
John said: “What a smashing fella he is. The man is different class. We spent the best part of an hour chatting to him about football and all sorts, it was a very good conversation.
“All the indications are that Sid is making good progress. It was great to meet him. The news that he is to be given the honour of presenting the ball before the derby game will mean so much to him.
“And I’d like to pay tribute to Darryl for setting up this campaign which has seen fans of many different clubs come together. I’m all for a bit of banter at football - but no one should go to see a game and end up seriously injured just because they support another team.”
Darryl Hancock said he was delighted at the news: “The response from fans all over the country has been amazing, with Blades fans backing the campaign as vigorously as anyone. Other clubs’ fans include Wrexham, Norwich and Donny Rovers, but far too many to mention them all.
“Now Sid will walk down the tunnel and onto the pitch carrying the match ball in front of 30,000 screaming Sheffield football fans. Thank you all for helping to make this happen.”