My View, Ben Parkinson: ‘I was so proud that fans sang my name’

Ben Parkinson brought the matchball onto the pitch for Doncaster Rovers v Gillingham
Ben Parkinson brought the matchball onto the pitch for Doncaster Rovers v Gillingham

Everyone makes new year resolutions, and last Saturday was time to make a start, with the Get Doncaster Walking initiative.

We are very lucky in Doncaster to have Lakeside, so as planned we set off from the Keepmoat on a freezing cold sunny morning.

There were about 200 people there including both mayors, the Sea Cadets, and many other people of all age s.

The snow had held off for us and we had about 1.7 miles to go.

I’m still gaining strength on my long legs and learning to cope with the weight.

But I managed the longest walk I have done on them so far.

That was a walk of well over half a mile.

Then, after the walk, I cheated and went back to the end to do the last hundred yards with everyone as they arrived back!

It was a great start to the day.

And I hope that people are able to keep it up.

Then it was on to lunch at the Keepmoat Stadium.

That is always a pleasure, and then it was time for the game.

But the game did not start until we had had the excitement of a power cut, when it looked as if the game would be held up.

My dad did not have to volunteer his skills as an electrician fortunately.

I was very lucky to be allowed to take the match ball out onto the pitch before the start of the game.

I couldn’t believe it when the Kop started to sing my name at the top of their voices as I went round the pitch.

It was one of the proudest moments I can ever remember and one of the most unexpected.

What an honour!

Next it was down to Willenhall near Cannock for a charity rugby match between a Pilgrimbandits team – mostly 7 Para RHA – and the club veterans.

Well it was a great game, and although the army won, the vets put up a brilliant performance.

The pitch was frosty but the crowd was lively.

It was followed by a fancy dress party and an attempt to drink the entire Midlands dry.

Several of the players thought they had discovered time travel.

I say that because a number of them seemed to go straight from the bar to finding themselves in bed the next morning.

I don’t drink now, but before I was injured I’m afraid to say I would have been there with the best of them, calling for that great para tradition, Naked Bar!

It was a very busy but fantastic day.

And the two best sports in this country did so much to help injured soldiers.

n Ben Parkinson suffered major injuries including the loss of both legs and brain damage in Afghanistan.