Arsenal star turns on Harpenden Christmas lights despite injury
- Credit: Shelagh Collingwood, Harpenden Photographic Society
Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere has won applause from fellow Harpenden residents after hobbling on stage to switch the town’s Christmas lights on, despite suffering an ankle injury.
The football star had promised to play key roles in last Sunday’s (21) festive event - which attracted thousands of visitors to the town - although the Gunners were to play a Premier League match against Manchester United the previous afternoon.
However, not only did United beat the Gunners 2-1, but Jack limped off the pitch after being tackled by defender Paddy McNair.
Despite being in pain and having his left foot clad in a protective boot, shortly after attending physio Jack turned up to the event with his son Archie.
Unfortunately his injury prevented him from acting as the final goalie in Harpenden Colts’ “beat the keeper” charity fundraising event, held as part of the Christmas Carnival and lights switch-on.
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Participants paid £1 to beat the keeper, and be entered into a draw where winners were to have been invited to try and save a penalty from the 22-year-old England star.
The 10 winners got to meet him instead.
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The Colts’ chairman Ian Holden said: “We are grateful to Jack for coming along. He was very nice, spoke to a lot of the kids and let them take ‘selfies’ with him. “Some were quite starstruck. We had one young man who spent £20 on entering beat the keeper so he had a greater chance of seeing Jack – which he did!”
Ian admitted he feared the Gunner might not turn up because of his injury.
Meanwhile, Celtic fan and Harpenden Town Mayor, Cllr Mary Maynard, also praised Jack for attending.
She said: “The lad was a trooper. Jack was absolutely fantastic. He was with the physio that morning, and due to have a MRI scan the next day.
“Jack had to be helped onto stage, and it was obviously painful but he said he was going to do it as Harpenden is his home, and he didn’t want to let down the kids or the Colts team.”
Cllr Maynard went on: “Jack brought his little boy along, and when he turned the lights on, his face just lit up.”
She also thanked the many volunteers, including local councillors, for helping Harpenden “capture the spirit of Christmas”.
Cllr Maynard added: “A highlight of the day was the celebrity cruises procession led by the pipes and drums, and featuring over 120 participants.”
She said visitors enjoyed seeing the Revelation Majorettes, and the Brownies, Scouts and Cadets who were also out in force.
Snow White, the Wicked Queen and other Harpenden pantomime favourites made celebrity appearances.