Express & Star fan of the year revealed

Mark Simmons’ life was changed forever when he was involved in a horrific accident aged just seven – but his love of Wolves helped him on the road to recovery.

Mark Simmons with his Express and Star fan of the season Award at the Wolverhampton Wanderers End of Season Dinner. (AMA/Sam Bagnall)
Mark Simmons with his Express and Star fan of the season Award at the Wolverhampton Wanderers End of Season Dinner. (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

Mark’s devotion to the club and his remarkable recovery earned him the title of Express & Star fan of the season, writes Jamie Brassington.

The 45-year-old, from Kingswinford, was presented with the award at Wolves’ glitzy end-of-season awards night held in Telford this week and attended by the players and club staff.

He said: “It was a fantastic night. I got to meet the players and manager and former stars like Steve Bull and Don Goodman.

“It is a privilege and honour to receive this award. There are so many Wolves fans out there.”

Mark goes to see Wolves every home game and also some away matches, and is looking forward to being in the Premier League next year.

He used to go with his father John, 77, to watch Wolves matches when he was a child.

But when he was seven he was involved in the tragic accident that dramatically changed his life.

His mother Gill, 78, said: “When he was seven he took some money out of his money box and wanted some sweets.

“And I told him he couldn’t have them until after tea. And he just went out the house and he was knocked down and involved in a major road accident.”

Mark was rushed to hospital where he underwent a life-saving operation before going into a coma and was left paralysed down his left-hand side.

He suffered a blood clot, a broken femur and the optic nerve to his left eye was severed, meaning he couldn’t open it.

Mark said: “I don’t remember a lot about it. I broke my arm, my leg, my femur, I had a stroke, lost all my use down my left hand-side.

“I fractured my skull, had to have a blood clot removed. I had serious head injuries. I had five operations on my left eye which I can’t look up or down. I was in a coma.”

The accident meant Mark had to learn basic life skills like walking and talking once again. Gill said: “When he came out of the coma, he was unable to speak, he was unable to walk. Everything had to be learnt again and to do that needs some determination. The doctor and nurses were absolutely tremendous. The hardest feeling was having to learn to walk and talk again. He has always been very determined and I think his love of the Wolves has brought him through.”

Gill didn’t leave Mark’s bedside for 14 weeks. While at the hospital he was inundated with get-well cards, scarves and memorabilia.

Almost all of his cards from his friends were Wolves related and they had all drawn Wolves pictures on them.

On the day that he was discharged from the Corbett Hospital in Stourbridge some Wolves players went along to visit him after being contacted by Mark’s friends.

But unfortunately they missed Mark as he had already left.

Gill said: “One of his friends contacted Wolves to see if any of the team could visit him.

“It was unfortunate that the day he was discharged from hospital after 14 weeks, some of the players went to see him and he missed them.”

However, it was arranged a few months down the line for him to be a mascot and lead the team on to the pitch, after his parents contacted Wolves.

Mark said: “My mum and dad wrote to the Wolves. To have the chance to be a mascot, it was Saturday on March 8, 1986. It was a privilege to lead out the team.”

Mark has made a good recovery over the years into his adult life – and following Wolves has helped him along the way.

The accident did not stop him following Wolves but instead increased his passion for his favourite football team.

Speaking during the awards ceremony, Mark was overwhelmed with joy at receiving the accolade but was left very surprised, and humbly said ‘why me?’.

He added: “This season has been the best ever and long may success continue for everyone associated with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“I was very surprised with getting the award, definitely. I was nervous as well to be truthful. I thought why me?

“It is a privilege and very kind of everybody who has done it, it is lovely.”

His parents Gill and John said the award would mean the world to Mark.

Gill said: “It is very important to Mark. I think he will gain a lot of confidence from it and it will give him a lot of pleasure, something that he will always remember all his life.” John added: “It has made him live. It has gave him the focus to live.”

Mark described this past season as the best one he had ever witnessed.

He said: “Wolves is my life, it is an important part of it. This season has been the best ever and long may continue for everyone associated with Wolverhampton Wanderers.”

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