St Albans football fans’ European tour for cancer boy

THREE football fans teamed up for a European tour while helping to raise awareness of the plight of a young boy suffering with a rare and aggressive childhood cancer.

Dean Tugman, 44, of Butterfield Lane in St Albans, Jamie Franklin, 40, of Roundfield Avenue, Harpenden, and Barry Devine, 30, now living in Manchester but formerly the landlord of O’Neill’s, later the Peacock, in St Albans, came up with a unique idea to raise money.

And their proposal to watch seven matches in seven countries in seven days snowballed as television companies and other media across Europe caught on to the banner they unfurled at each of the matches they watched.

Barry had been following the story of four-year-old Oscar Knox, who lives in his native Northern Ireland, and who was diagnosed with high risk neuroblastoma at the end of 2011. Oscar needs to visit the USA for the treatment that could save his life.

Barry explained: “Oscar is big news back home and I wanted to do something.

“With the expense of what we were doing, it seemed a bit crude to ask people for money so we took the banner round strictly to raise awareness and get exposure. But wherever we went, supporters from all clubs and countries asked about the banner and wanted to give us money, so we have set up a Just Giving page so people can donate directly to the appeal.” Their journey started in Scotland on Sunday, December 2, with the Edinburgh derby between Hibernian and Hearts. From there it was down to Newcastle for their Premier League clash with Wigan on Monday, and then up to Glasgow for a flight to Paris to watch Paris St Germain play Porto in the Champions League.

Another flight and another Champions League match between Barcelona and Benfica on Wednesday and Thursday saw Europa League action in Milan between Inter and Nefti Baku of Azerbaijan.

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The trio then flew to Holland where the plan was to watch PSV Eindhoven, but with all games in Holland postponed out of respect for the death of a linesman in a boys’ match, there was a quick rethink and a train to Hamburg to see the local team play Hoffenheim in a German League fixture.

They got back on the train to Belgium for Mons v Anderlecht on Saturday and their seventh game in seven countries in seven days.

But the boys didn’t stop there. For good measure they were in Liverpool on Sunday to watch Everton v Tottenham.