All Bradford City fans will never forget the club’s historic cup semi-final victory over Aston Villa, but schoolboy Jake Turton has the shirt to prove it.
The nine-year-old, once given a week to live after he was struck down with a brain tumour, was last night proudly showing off diehard City skipper Gary Jones’s sweat-stained top.
The 35-year-old midfield driving force at the centre of City’s Capital Cup success, singled out Jake among City’s thousands of wildly celebrating fans at Villa Park immediately after the game and planted a giant kiss on his head before passing him the now treasured shirt.
Jones had recognised the youngster as being among the mascots who accompanied the team out for the semi final home leg at Valley Parade on January 8 after Jake and his dad Andy, also a huge Bantams fan, had managed to secure front row seats.
Mr Turton said Jake had been overjoyed at City’s aggregate win over the Premiership club but that turned to amazement as the club captain jogged across the pitch to hug and kiss him.
“He loved every minute of the match and couldn’t believe it when Gary Jones came over and recognised him as being one of the mascots at the first leg match with Villa,” said Mr Turton.
“He gave him his shirt. We’re hoping to get it signed by all the team, but it’ll need a wash first!”
In 2009 Jake was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour, which had spread to his spine. It was detected after his mum Cath carried out her own internet search after he fell ill with a mystery condition.
Alarm bells had started ringing when he kept being sick and, at one stage after the tumour was found, Jake was given a week to live.
Shortly before treatment was due to begin that would have given him a 30 per cent chance of surviving over the next three years, his oncologist at Leeds General Infirmary had attended a meeting of UK specialists where it was agreed an Italian treatment, the Milan Protocol – which has a 73 per cent survival rate over five years – could be used in this country.
Jake then underwent brain surgery and was in a coma for ten weeks and had to endure months of chemotherapy.
Now, thanks to the pioneering treatment, he survived against the odds and is now fighting back to full health, including returning to St Paul’s Primary School in Buttershaw.
Jake escorted the team on to the Valley Parade pitch for the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final clash with Villa after his dad had contacted the club following the quarter-final penalty shoot-out victory over Arsenal.
Mr Turton said: “We thought it would be a bit of a long shot for Jake to be one of their mascots because there would be so many others wanting to do it.
“He’s been a big fan since he was just a tot. They said yes and we were thrilled.”
Jake and his dad will also be at Wembley for the final on Sunday, February 24.
Mr Turton, of Northowram, said: “We wouldn’t miss it for the world!”