Football’s big family backs boy fighting rare leukaemia
Dele Alli visited 11-year-old Spurs fan Tony Clark in hospital
Tony Clark and dad Anthony with Dele Alli at Great Ormond Street Hospital
YOUNG footballers have launched an extraordinary fundraising drive for a boy diagnosed with one of the world’s rarest forms of leukaemia.
Tony Clark is facing at least three years of chemotherapy treatment for an aggressive and rare form of acute L leukaemia (ALL), caused by a genetic abnormality known as Philadelphia chromosome.
The 11-year-old, who plays for Isledon Wolves in the Camden and Islington Football League at Market Road, has been plunged into a world of blood transfusions and daily visits to major hospitals.
But his teammates and league rivals alike have rallied round Tony, taking part in a penalty shoot-out competition which could raise thousands of pounds to fund his treatment and his family’s travel to and from hospital. An online page has already raised more than £9,000.
In addition, tonight (Friday) Highbury Wolves are holding a raffle when signed and framed Arsenal shirts can be won, with all money going to Tony’s fund. And on December 18, the teams are taking part in an all-day tournament organised by Cally Stars, to raise further funds.
League secretary Karen Greene said: “The clubs have been fantastic in coming together to support this young boy and to raise awareness. We’re one big family at Market Road and we’re pulling together to help wherever we can. It’s a small community and everyone knows one another.”
Isledon Wolves club secretary Pip Clothier added: “We’re absolutely delighted that the league have come to support this amazing, very important and sensitive development in the history of our club.
“We’re hoping that all the teams will participate before the end of next week to help get Tony the treatment he needs.”
Earlier this month, Tony met his favourite Tottenham Hotspur player, Dele Alli, when the club visited Great Ormond Street Hospital.
His dad, Anthony Clark, a builder who lives in Kentish Town, said: “He’s quite a quiet boy. But he’s been so resilient, he has been amazing. When they took blood from me, I just passed out. But he just gets on with it.
“He was doing really well pre-season with his football, and then he started to have problems with his breathing. I thought he’d be all right, but it kept on happening.”
He added: “I don’t think I will get over hearing about the Philadelphia. They tell you it’s leukaemia, then five days later they hit you with this bombshell.
“The Whittington say they’ve never had anyone with it, and at Great Ormond Street Hospital the consultant said he’d only had a patient with it once.”
Anthony, a former Southend football club midfielder who runs Islington Admiral FC football team, said the family were hoping they may be able to find a transplant for the boy.
On the visit from the Spurs ace, he said: “He had flown back from Germany the night before. They made him train the next day – and he still came after that. That was really nice.”
More than 230 donations have been made online, with Islington Boxing Club selling a signed @JackWilshere Arsenal shirt for £1,000. To get involved, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/admiralfc