Sheffield's 'Mad Man With The Pram' gets hero's reception from Rangers fans horrified by abuse

John Burkhill receives his cheque at Ibrox from Club 1872 directors Joanne Percival and Laura Fawkes
John Burkhill receives his cheque at Ibrox from Club 1872 directors Joanne Percival and Laura Fawkes
0
Have your say

Sheffield's 'Mad Man With The Pram' today got a hero's welcome from Rangers fans determined to show the club's true colours after the abuse he suffered.

John Burkhill, the 78-year-old from Handsworth who is famed for his charity exploits, attended Ibrox today after being invited by Rangers and their supporters group Club 1872.

John with Club 1872 supporters outside the ground

John with Club 1872 supporters outside the ground

He was given a tour of the ground and met manager Pedro Caixinha and club legend Andy Goram before taking to the pitch at half-time during the match against Hibernian to collect a cheque for £4,000 raised by fans.

John was verbally abused and had items stolen from his pram outside Hillsborough, where he had been collecting for Macmillan Cancer Support, ahead of a pre-season friendly between Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday last month.

Rangers fans were disgusted by the actions of a handful of the club's supporters - who apparently took exception to his green wig, which is the colour of fierce rivals Celtic - and quickly set up a fundraising page for the charity.

Joanne Percival and Laura Fawkes, directors of Club 1872, said: "John got a great reception at the ground today. People were coming over to introduce themselves and take selfies with him, and they were handing over £10 and £20 notes.

John with Joanne and Laura

John with Joanne and Laura

"It's the biggest response we've ever had for a charity collection, with the exception of the war memorial one. I think today showed what Rangers supporters are really about."

Club 1872 said many Rangers supporters had donated directly to John's fundraising page, bringing the true amount raised by fans to around £6,000, even before the money he collected at the ground was taken into account.

John, whose wife June died of cancer, walks miles each day with his pram collecting money for Macmillan, for which he is seeking to raise £1 million.

He said he was 'overwhelmed' by the generosity of Rangers fans, adding that the vast majority of them had been great last month, with only a handful giving him any grief.

John normally collects outside Hillsborough and Bramall Lane every match day but his grandson Daniel agreed to stand in this weekend so he could travel to Scotland.

You can donate to Macmillan via John's fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/madwalker.