RUNCORN Linnets are pledging support for a terminally-ill five year old girl by backing a fundraising effort launched by a neighbouring club's goalkeeper.
1874 Northwich 'keeper, Greg Hall has been wearing a bandana in recent matches to show solidarity with the family of Gracie McCall, a pupil at the primary school where he works.
Having beaten a rare form of brain cancer once, Gracie now has secondary tumours on her brain and spine.
"Gracie's Goal" has been set up on JustGiving to raise awareness of the illness and also generate funds for vital research.
Every time teaching assistant Greg turns out in his unusual head gear, the popular 'keeper pays £10 into the fundraising jar at his school.
Greg is well known to Runcorn Linnets fans from his time at Maine Road and Glossop North End.
Although he has always been the most difficult of opponents, his extrovert on-field personality has made him someone Linnets supporters can easily relate to and respect.
On hearing of the reason for Greg sporting the bandanas, Linnets kit manager Jon Urquhart and the fans group, Left Side Ultras quickly offered their support for Greg's efforts and, of course, Gracie from Withington, Manchester.
As a result, 1874 Northwich are in conjunction with visiting Runcorn Linnets arranging fundraising activities during the derby game between the two clubs at St Luke's Barton Stadium in Winsford this Saturday, March 11th (ko 3pm).
Fans of both teams will be able to obtain and wear a blue bandana, like Greg has been wearing, in return for a donation.
There will also be a half-time collection. Money raised will go to Brain Tumour Research.
The events will take place two days after the funeral at Our Lady's Catholic Church, Palacefields, this Thursday (March 9th, 10am) of 18-year-old former Runcorn Linnets junior player, Luke Mackrell who died only 11 days after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Gracie was diagnosed with a very rare aggressive brain tumour at the age of two in January 2014.
Only about five children in the UK are diagnosed with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumour each year. Survival rates are about 10 per cent - often because children cannot survive tough treatment.
Gracie had surgery to remove the tumour and then radiotherapy at The Christie in Manchester.
Treatment involved a general anaesthetic every day for a month.
In addition, she had chemotherapy and was on antibiotics to ward off serious infections.
Gracie's treatment ended in July 2014 when she was finally given the all clear by doctors at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.
But a routine check-up in October 2015 revealed that Gracie now had three new tumours on her brain and spine.
"Gracie's Goal" is just over halfway to reaching its £5,000 fundraising target.
This is the second time this season that followers of the two Cheshire fans-owned clubs have come together to help a good cause.
The 2016-17 league fixture hosted by Runcorn Linnets at The Millbank Linnets Stadium in September saw a collection for Cancer Research North West to recognise and support a charity climb of Kilimanjaro later this year by intrepid fundraisers Team One Step – David Ash of Sandymoor, Runcorn, and his 33-year-old nephew Chris Riley of Frodsham.
If anyone, particularly Linnets supoorters who are unable to attend this weekend's game, would like to contribute to the appeal, they can make a donation through www.justgiving.com/fundraising/GraciesGoal
Please mark your payment Runcorn Linnets supporting "Gracie's Goal"