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FUND-RAISING FAN'S HEART ATTACK AGONY; Struggle in the stands to save John, 72.

Byline: By James Moncur

A CARING football fan was fighting for life last night after he presented a charity cheque to a rival supporter then collapsed in the stands with a massive heart attack.

Thousands of fans at Saturday's Dundee United-Kilmarnock game watched in shock as paramedics fought for 25 minutes to save John Simpson, 72.

Kilmarnock supporter John fell ill within minutes of the half-time cheque presentation, and seconds after his side let in a goal.

John and his colleagues in a Killie fans' group raised pounds 1000 for a teenage United supporter left paralysed in a car crash after the Boxing Day game between the two clubs.

United fans at Tannadice stood to applaud him when he handed the cheque to the father of 16-year-old Heather Hird.

John returned to his seat in the George Fox Stand for the second half, and collapsed seconds after United scored. Heather Hird's dad Gordon said: "John was just above us in the stand when he took ill.

"We couldn't believe it - a few minutes earlier we were laughing and joking on the pitch."

Police cleared fans from the seats around John and paramedics gave him heart massage. Many of the 5800-strong crowd could see what was happening.

The medics worked on John in the stand for almost half an hour before he was carried away on a stretcher to an ambulance and taken to the intensive care unit at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

Gordon Hird added: "John has done so much to help Heather, and for him to end up in hospital like this is very sad news.

"When he is strong enough we'll try and visit him, and we wish him and his family all the best."

Mike Barile, of Dundee United's Arab Trust supporters' group, said: "I walked round with John to his seat after the presentation.

"United scored just after half time and he had a heart attack.

"I can't believe that a guy who was making such a nice gesture could suffer a heart attack like that."

Killie fans have rallied round to help Heather, of Aberdalgie, Perthshire. She was paralysed from the neck down in the crash on the way home from Rugby Park.

John's group, the 97 Club, was one of several to get involved. In total, Kilmarnock supporters have raised more than pounds 2500.

CAPTION(S):

ALAN RICHARDSON' STRUCK DOWN: John is carried away on a stretcher by paramedics after the 25-minute battle to save his life. ABOVE: The pensioner shakes hands with Gordon Hird as he hands over the cheque for Heather, right
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 28, 2006
Words:430
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