Blades fanatic Pat has reached 'top fan' final

IS this the biggest football fan in the country?

Blades fanatic Pat Draper is certainly hoping so - after reaching the final 10 in a national competition to find the UK's most devoted football fan.

Despite being diagnosed with breast cancer, the avid Sheffield United fan has pulled on her red and white stripes week after week to follow her beloved team all over the country.

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The mum-of-two, from Somersall, Chesterfield, has been a devoted United fan for 30 years and even went to a match four days after a mastectomy operation.

And Pat, aged 49, wasn't going to let a little thing like chemotherapy get in the way.

She travelled to Plymouth and back for a match following treatment because she was too ill to stay over, and gritted her teeth as she climbed football ground steps while in agony on crutches.

She said: "I am delighted to be shortlisted in this competition. I love my football and to be honest it has kept me going through the cancer treatment and given me something else to think about and look forward to."

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Originally a Spireites fan, Pat swapped her allegiance after marrying husband Steve - a Unitedite. She said: "We never saw each other as we were always at different matches so we thought 'something has got to give'.

"Now we go to every single match. I have hardly missed any. After my operation I was in a lot of discomfort and Steve kept telling me not to jump up - but it's hard not to if they score."

Pat, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and has her next check up in November , thinks she was nominated for the title by someone at Sheffield United sponsors Capital One.

But she's up against some stiff competition. Her rivals include a man whose body is covered in tattoos of his team and extreme supporters who have risked life and limb for the beautiful game. They include one nominee who went to a match after waking from a coma after being hit by a car.

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Other nominees have named children after their team's heroes and one even postponed his wedding to attend a game.

The winner of the Britain's Biggest Football fan competition, run by Virgin Media, will become a presenter for the day on the station's new sports channel alongside telly pundit

Log on to to vote for Pat.

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