Sunderland at Wembley: Fan set to miss Checkatrade Trophy final due to hospital operation gets ticket with help from 1973 FA Cup-winning legend
A Sunderland fan who was due to miss Sunday's Checkatrade Trophy final due to be being booked in for hospital operation will now make it to Wembley thanks to help from a club legend.
Lifelong fan John Small, 44, had resigned himself to missing out on the trip as he was booked in for an operation on his ankle on Thursday at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
It would've meant several days of recuperation at the hospital for the dad-of-three, who had decided to give his season ticket number to a friend so they could go in his place.
But, while wearing his hospital gown and being prepped for the procedure, he was told it would it would have to be cancelled at the last minute.
Quick-thinking John, a Royal Mail delivery office manager, immediately got a taxi to the Stadium of Light ticket office in a late attempt to get a ticket for Sunday's game against Portsmouth.
Others in the queue heard of John's plight and let him get to the front of the queue, when he realised he didn't have enough money or a debit card to pay for a ticket.
Thankfully, FA Cup-winning midfielder Micky Horswill was there and said he would help John out, offering to pay for his ticket.
John, of Great Lumley, near Chester-le-Street, has hailed Micky as a "legend" for his good deed.
"I was pretty much resigned to not being able to watch the game, so I was even asking the nurses at hospital if they could Sky Sports in to watch on Sunday," said John.
"I'd even bought a little radio to listen to the commentary on.
"On Thursday morning I'd got all gowned up for the operation but at the very last minute I was told it had been cancelled.
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"Straight away I got a taxi down to the stadium because I heard there were more tickets on sale.
"A bloke in the queue heard what had happened and said could I go to the front.
"Micky Horswill happened to be in the queue just at the time I realised I didn't have my bank card on me and he said he would offer to pay for my ticket.
"Mickey is a total legend.
"I've met him a few times before and he's always been an absolute gentleman.
"As it turned out I managed to get my bank details sent to me and I sorted it there and then, but if I didn't have those then I think Micky would have paid for my ticket and not accepted any money."
John, dad to Ben, 20, Megan, 14, and Ella, 11 is now also hoping to secure a ticket for his wife Tracey, 44.
He hopes it will be the first time he will see a win for the Black Cats at Wembley following five straight losses.
"I went in to the League Cup final in 1985, the Play-Off final in 1990, the FA Cup final in 1992, the Play-Off final in 1998 and the League Cup final against Manchester City in 2014 and obviously we've lost all of them," said John.
"But I think we'll win this one 2-0 with goals from Will Grigg and Aidan McGeady."
Anyone who can help with sorting John's wife Tracey with a ticket should call him on 07754706672.