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Former Walsall boss Chris Nicholl presented with tracker watch

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

A group of Walsall supporters and ex-players have presented former manager Chris Nicholl with a tracker watch.

The Independent Saddlers Supporters’ Association (ISSA), alongside former players Wayne Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Martin O’Connor , Kevin Wilson, Stuart Ryder and Darren Wrack, raised money to buy the watch – which will help Nicholl stay safe as his dementia worsens.

The Professional Footballers’ Association then decided to step in and pay for the watch, meaning the money raised in Walsall will now go towards new golfing gear for Nicholl.

This afternoon, the ex-players and ISSA members met with Nicholl at Bloxwich Golf Club to present him with the watch and enjoy some rounds of golf.

“Chris did a lot for our club so the fans are giving something back now for the enjoyment he provided us with,” said ISSA chairman David Beckett.

“We see him on a regular basis and report back to his family in Southampton. We keep an eye out for him. The ex-players have been brilliant too.”

ISSA have been instrumental in taking Nicholl for days out, including taking him to Walsall matches at the Banks’s Stadium last season.

Fan liaison officer at the group, Colin Plant, believes looking after the legendary former manager is the least they can do.

“If you look at Chris’ achievements with the club, he’s a legend to the fans,” he added.

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“He still lives in the area so we feel an obligation to see that he’s ok.

“He started coming down the Railway Club, which is fantastic, and fans love speaking to him and chatting about football.

“He comes to life when he’s there and he still remembers everything from his footballing days, it’s fantastic.

“He’s looked at as one of our own and we look after our own. We just want to look after him.

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“It just showed how much he is revered in this area, every time that he has walked off and got confused, everybody who has found him has made sure he is safe.

“It will be a bit of added safety and security for him having this watch, so it’s brilliant.

“He’s a member of Bloxwich Golf Club and it’s a big hobby of his, he loves it, so the money we raised for the watch will go nicely towards some golfing gear for him now.”

Among the ex-players involved, they cite Nicholl as an influential figure in their career, meaning they didn’t think twice before getting involved.

“Chris gave me and others huge opportunities in football and is fondly remembered by all the players,” Wayne Thomas said.

“I set up an ex-player group chat about nine-months-ago and all the lads of his era and others are fully supportive to help Chris and his family alongside the tremendous work ISSA do at this difficult time .

“The watch will hopefully still give him the independence needed to fulfil things that make him happy in his life.”

This latest goodwill gesture is one of several that ISSA have been leading throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after they donated £5,100 towards Walsall’s new Bescot Bar, while plans are also underway to provide the club with a brand new minibus.

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter - @LiamKeen_Star

Sports journalist at the Express & Star, primarily covering Walsall FC and grassroots sport across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319456.

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