AN inspirational schoolgirl battling a brain tumour will rub shoulders with her heroes on the Wembley pitch.
Impressed by Erin Bates’s efforts to help raise £5,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, the FA have asked the 11-year-old from Washington to be a player escort at England’s World Cup qualifier against Moldova.
It means football-mad Erin, from Ayton, will get to walk on to the hallowed turf with one of the players at the start of tonight’s match.
Erin is in the midst of chemotherapy treatment for an inoperable brain tumour after she was diagnosed with the illness in June.
Just hours after completing the radiotherapy section of her treatment, she joined team-mates from Washington AFC under-12s to play in Erin’s Marathon Match, a charity event inspired by the schoolgirl which raised bumper amounts of charity money.
Dad Simon, 35, said: “Through the charity event, the FA heard about Erin and asked if she’d like to be a player escort.
“We don’t know which player it will be yet, it could be a player from either side.
“She’s a big football fan so she’s really excited about it.”
Despite her illness, Erin managed to start the new school term with her classmates at Oxclose Community Academy this week.
Dad-of-three Simon said: “She can’t do full days as she’s too tired but she’s trying to do as much as she can.”
Erin is embarking on an eight-month course of chemotherapy at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital in a bid to kill off the tumour, which is so deeply embedded in her brain that it can’t be removed via an operation.
Her family have been so touched with the work of the Teenage Cancer Trust, this year’s official FA charity, that they decided to help its efforts with Erin’s Marathon Match.
The seven-hour tournament took place at Durham FA’s ground in Chester-le-Street.
Tonight’s England match is the first of four games which will determine if they make it to next year’s World Cup in Brazil. After tackling Moldova, they face a trip to Ukraine on Tuesday before home games against Montenegro and Poland in October.