The pain of a broken leg was worth it for Doncaster Rovers fan Sam Bailey when he got the chance to meet his heroes.
Minutes before going into the operating theatre yesterday to have metal pins inserted into his ankle, the 13-year-old season ticket holder enjoyed the thrill of a visit from Rovers players during the club’s annual Christmas visit to Doncaster Children’s Hospital.
Sam, a pupil at Outwood Academy in Adwick, suffered the injury playing for Brodsworth in the boys’ league last weekend.
Rovers winger Mark Duffy handed him a gift and had a chat about football before Chris Brown, Harry Forrester, Theo Robinson and Billy Paynter joined him at Sam’s bedside.
“It was good to see them, it was something I’ve been looking forward to,” said Sam, who celebrates his 14th birthday on Christmas Eve and will have to wait three months before he can play football again.
His mum, Dawn, added: “He was supposed to go into theatre this morning but had some medicine which put it back a bit – I think he timed it well.”
The entire Rovers squad spent about an hour touring the wards to hand out gifts and mingle with the patients and their parents, signing autographs and children’s Rovers shirts.
Owen Birks, aged 14, a pupil at Rawmarsh Comprehensive, confessed he was a Sheffield United fan – but the players still presented him with a gift to ease the pain of his recent tonsil operation.
“They were fine about it, it was really good of them to come,” he said.
One-year-old Reuben Quinn, from Lindholme, who is recovering from bronchitis, will have had a very jealous older brother last night when Tyler, five, learned he had missed out on meeting the players.
Mum Natasha said: “Tyler is a great Rovers fan but he’s at school and will be upset when he hears about the players coming here.”
Rovers club captain Rob Jones said: “It’s nice to give something back, especially at this time of year. It’s not nice for a kid to be in hospital at any time, but a lot worse at Christmas.
“We expect some of these kids to support us on a Saturday so it’s nice to come and give them some support at a time when they need it.”
Jane Morgan, a teacher at the hospital school, said: “The children really appreciate their visit and are very grateful for their presents. The club has also donated two Galaxy tablets to the school, which we could not have afforded.
“This visit gives the kids something to look forward to at Christmas and is a real boost for them, especially the ones who have to stay in over Christmas.”