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INTERVIEW: Nick Anderton on his diagnosis, Stanley and fundraising

You can donate to the GoFundMe page set up for Nick by following the link below

16 January 2023


INTERVIEW: Nick Anderton on his diagnosis, Stanley and fundraising

You can donate to the GoFundMe page set up for Nick by following the link below

16 January 2023

Nick Anderton says the happy memories of his football career are playing a massive part in keeping him positive after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

The left-back said he relished his loan spell with Accrington Stanley in 2018/19, the first season after the Reds had secured promotion to League One, when he came from parent club Blackpool and played League One football regularly for the first time in his career, with 22 appearances.

The 26-year-old went to Carlisle next for a season before signing up to Bristol Rovers in 2021 and helping them chalk up a historic promotion - winning 7-0 on the final day of last season to reach League One on goals scored.

However, after the elation of that, where he smiled as he remembered a 'ten day party' in Bristol and Dubai - with a famous picture of Nick up a lamppost still in his kit - his world crashed down.

He heard the words 'it's cancer' in July 2022, diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and he had a successful operation on his knee in October.

He is now on chemotherapy cycle two of six at The Christie.

"I had been having a bit of trouble with my knee," said Nick. "I remember New Year's Day last year and it was really sore.

"I carried on playing and it flared up again and I thought it was just a niggle, or a tight IT band down my quad, you never think it's cancer. There is no history of cancer in my family and this one is so rare.

"I came back in pre-season and I did all the running, the bleep test, the weights and, around four days after coming back, I could barely walk up the stairs.

"It was absolutely killing me so the club sent me for a scan, the doctors found a tumour and they thought I would need an operation and hopefully that would be it.

"However, they sent the tumour off for a biopsy and it was found there were some aggressive cancer cells so I am having six rounds of chemotherapy to 'mop it out.'"

Preston-born Nick speaks quite matter-of-factly about his diagnosis and says he has to keep level-headed as his way is to face it head on.

"One thing I haven't done is google it or anything. If I get information booklets, I give them to my mum or my girlfriend Isabel. I have tunnel vision; I will just deal with it as it comes as I don't want to know about side effects etc. as then you will automatically think it will happen.

"I know they can be intense and there are peaks and troughs with chemo. You do feel sick but then you quickly feel ok for a few days.

"I have come to realise this is real. When you are in a room with a doctor and they are telling you news you don't want to hear - in six months I have learnt what real life is."

The latest round of chemotherapy is particularly hard for Nick as Isabel gave birth to their second child George on Tuesday. The pair already have Grace.

"I saw George born on Tuesday and then it was chemo Wednesday and I was in for two days. That's hard.

"When I was diagnosed, Grace was just two and Isabel was in the early stages of her pregnancy with George. My thoughts went straight to them and I think, if I didn't have them, I would have struggled a lot more with the diagnosis.

"It's weird as when you get told you have cancer, you don't know how to react. You just have to tackle it and keep positive, especially because I have such a young family."

He says everyone at Bristol Rovers has been brilliant - they are having their heads shaved for Nick on 16th January, as Nick wears shirt No. 16. A fundraiser has also been set up to help him and his family as he goes through treatment.

"That's a bit mad. I never expected anything like that. I don't know what everyone will look like with their heads shaved, let's hope it gives us a psychological advantage!

"Everyone at Bristol Rovers has been superb though - the owner, the CEO, the players, the manager - everyone.

"We are a special group. The second half of last season was special from where we were in January to getting into the top three for the first time in around the 84th minute of the final game of the season and going up.

"There were obviously a few Accrington players there too. When I first went there, I shared a house with Sam Finley, Yosser (Mark Hughes) and Paul Coutts. I knew Mangy (Andy Mangan) already and I had spoken to the gaffer (Joey Barton) before signing. We went from nothing really clicking in the first half of the season to the best five months of my career."

Nick says the whole football family have helped him - including the friends he made at the Wham Stadium.

"I loved my days at Accrington. I grew up on a farm and the club was like that - honest and hard-working.

"Everyone was on a high after promotion and it was a brilliant dressing room. It was the first time I had a run of games in League One.

"I remember the Sunderland game being abandoned because of the weather and playing Barnsley both sold out at the Wham Stadium. I remember a trip to Plymouth where we won 3-0 and I certainly remember the bus journey's home. They were brilliant! I absolutely loved being at the club.

"I still speak to Clicker (Jordan Clark), Yosser, Sam Finley, Rippers (Connor Ripley), and Coley, Jimmy (Bell) and John Doolan, all sent me messages. I know Michael Nottingham from Blackpool, one of the nicest men in football, and he has visited me.

"I speak to Paul Coutts every day, Mangy every day and the gaffer a couple of times a week. That's important to me.

"Remembering all the good times, they keep me going. I am happy with what I achieved, there have been a lot of really great times, especially last season."

There is a bucket collection today for Nick and, if he isn't exhausted from his chemotherapy, he was hoping he may be able to come along.

"Sorry but I want a Bristol Rovers win. We won our last away game in the league at Cambridge and we are on a bit of a run, except the Papa Johns defeat, so we need to carry that on."

And he has plans for the future.

"When my treatment is over, I want to do a big fundraiser for osteosarcoma, not a lot is known about it because it is so rare so I want to help them to find out more about it and where it comes from to help others in the future."

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Nick and you can donate by CLICKING HERE!

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