From contemplating missing Nottingham Forest’s last home game with Middlesbrough to meeting his heroes on the hallowed turf at The City Ground, John Burton won’t forget the game in a hurry.

20 Mar 2015

From contemplating missing Nottingham Forest’s last home game with Middlesbrough to meeting his heroes on the hallowed turf at The City Ground, John Burton won’t forget the game in a hurry.

The long-standing supporter and prostate cancer advocate was seriously thinking about sitting out the Championship visit of Boro as match day loomed but a change of heart would trigger a remarkable sequence of events. Having sealed his seat at the game, a flurry of activity on social media via fellow fans led to the club and Prostate Cancer UK presenting him with an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Back and forward tweets between Forest officials and John’s mates sparked an online rally to send John to take up the Guest of Honour in support of Men United, as the club hosted a match day in support of Official Football League Charity Partners, Prostate Cancer UK – and helped raise £909.55.

Forest

“It was quite fitting as next season it’ll be my 50th year supporting Forest and it’s their 150th anniversary, so it seemed like it was meant to be,” John said.

“On the Thursday I was actually 50/50 as to whether I was going to attend the game and I thought, you know what, I’m going to go so I ordered my ticket online.”

John was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2013, abrupt news that left him and his family in shock.

“I went to my doctor for a general check up and they called me in for a chat; it was a massive shock as I had no symptoms, nothing. I didn’t know whether I was on my elbow or my backside, to be fair.”

After the doctor confirmed he had an aggressive form of prostate cancer, John was reassured that it had been caught early.

Through countless tests and radiotherapy, with support from family and friends, John kept working and pushed himself to keep social – and used social media to spread the message about Prostate Cancer UK’s new Men United movement.

“It would have been very easy for me to slip into a dark place and I didn’t want to do that – you need to be with your mates,” he said.

“Last year there were 64 clubs who’d joined Men United and Forest wasn’t one of them, and I thought that was quite sad. So I was badgering the club I’ve supported for many years to get behind the cause. Now, this season, it’s great to see there’s recognition here.”

Dougie Freedman, Nottingham Forest Manager proudly wears our 'Man of Men' pin badge in his post-match interview.

Dougie Freedman, Nottingham Forest Manager proudly wears our 'Man of Men' pin badge in his post-match interview.

Proud that his club is now getting behind Men United, John, who watched his first Forest game as a 10-year-old in 1966, believes more people will be able to support each other.

“You can easily get left behind with this disease so bringing people together to fight for something is important - it’s not just one man fighting against the world,” he noted.

As for his support for the club, it was love at first sight. “I went to my first game in 1966 and from that day I was hooked - as supporter you stick by them,” he said.

“I’ve seen the ups and downs from the stand burning down to winning the European Cup twice in a row but I guess that’s just like life – a rollercoaster.

“What’s happened in the short space of time from being diagnosed with prostate cancer to standing on the pitch showing my support for Men United to 25,000 people, holding a scarf alongside professional footballers, is remarkable. It was a proud moment that I’ll remember forever.”

Notts Forest squad

Forest fans can sign up for Men United and do something great with their mates by joining Men United

Join Men United
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