Burnley FC fan overwhelmed as advert asking for help travelling to and from Clarets games goes viral

A Southport-based Burnley FC fan who placed an advert in his local paper asking for a lift to home games has been left in complete shock following the response.

By John Deehan
Monday, 21st February 2022, 4:47 pm
Updated Monday, 21st February 2022, 9:20 pm

Lifelong Claret Christopher Coxhead said social media and "the wonderful power" of football fans had turned his world upside down after his plea captured the public's imagination.

Chris, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2018, took out the ad in the Southport and Formby Champion last week because he was worried his ill health would prevent him from driving to matches next season.

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"I still drive, but because of the Parkinson's I don't know how long I will be able to. So I was anticipating next season, and whether or not I should buy a season ticket.

"I want to keep my licence for as long as possible but I don't want to take any risks with late nights and the darkness. I've had a bad Christmas with the Parkinson's so I haven't been to any games since November, not that there've been many home games in that time."

Chris' ad quickly went viral, appearing in numerous Facebook forums, while a Tweet by Carl Disley calling on fans to "help this fella keep going...the match as long as possible" has now been retweeted/liked more than 55,000 times.

Burnley businessman Dave Fishwick quickly offered to cover the football-loving pensioner's travel costs after hearing about his plight.

Burnley FC fan Christopher Coxhead

Dave Walker, managing director of +24 Marketing, also contacted Chris through Facebook to invite him to his executive box for the Leicester game.

And the offers didn't stop there.

Burnley FC chairman Alan Pace was soon in touch, inviting Chris to be his VIP guest at a home game of his choice, where he would meet Sean Dyche, and be presented with a signed shirt.

The Burnley Express has been inundated with countless messages as well from kind-hearted supporters asking if there was anything they could do to help.

All the attention has been a little overwhelming for a 71-year-old who "doesn't like fuss".

"I just can't believe it. It's so amazing. It's incredible what social media can do, along with the power of the wonderful fans.

"It's been a little embarrassing because I didn't really want all this fuss. I was just trying to find somebody in Southport who would be able to give me a lift – I'm not short of money – the awkward bit was getting to somewhere where I could get public transport to Burnley, because it's not the easiest from Southport. And you can't guarantee evening or night matches.

"A gentleman called John Broady who's eight miles away from me has volunteered to drive me now, which is great."

Chris' love affair with the Clarets began in 1960 when he was 10 years old and living down south.

"When I was 10 years old I lived in Ascot in Berkshire – that's where I was brought up – and somebody decided one day that we'd all 'pick' our teams," said Chris, who was a desk officer in the Merchant Navy before he became a prison officer, retiring in 2009.

"I went home to my dad and said, 'How do I pick a team?' because I didn't know much about football.

"Dad told me to close my eyes, and bang my finger down on the page of the newspaper where the league tables were. I picked Burnley. That was in January 1960, and they went on to win the league that year.

"So, when I was 13/14 I would go to London to watch them play. I was 20 before I was 'rich' enough to be able to travel up to home matches."

Chris, who is married and has one son, takes 17 pills a day to manage his Parkinson's, and recently volunteered to undergo an experimental treatment for the disease.

"Six of us went to Nottingham – it's the first trial of its kind in this country. I will find out the results in the summer, but the results so far have been extremely encouraging apparently.

"The least it will do, they hope, is stop it in its tracks."

He has followed his beloved Clarets up and down the country now for six decades, through thick, thin and freezing.

"I've never been so cold," recalling Hartlepool away in February 1986, where, battered by winds coming off the North Sea, he watched them lose 3-1. "And I've been at sea in the middle of winter. It was awful."

But the highs have undoubtedly far outweighed the lows.

"There's been so many good memories. Just going to Wembley when we lost to Wolves in the Sherpa Van Trophy. And of course Wade scoring that goal against Sheffield United, getting us to the Premier League. And every year in the Premier League since."

And he's more than confident that's where the Clarets will be playing their football next season.

"I'm very positive about this season. I don't think we will lose many more games. The side is playing so well. We played Brighton off the park – and they've rarely given away more than one goal at home this season.

"I honestly think we'll be clear of relegation by the time we play Brentford [March 12th]."