ONE GIANT LEAP FOR FANKIND; Walsall supporter Mark's mission to 'scarf' men who've walked on the moon.
Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
E'S the Black Country football fan with an ambition that's simply out of this world.
HMark Dabbs is on a quest to drape the handful of astronauts who have walked the moon's surface with Walsall FC scarves.
That way, he can legitimately say The Saddlers have conquered the moon.
Many have dismissed the quest as sheer lunacy, but Mark isn't doing badly.
In all, 12 astronouts completed moon-walks, eight of whom are still alive.
And Mark, from Pleck, has already "scarfed" six of them.
The half-dozen honorary fans of the League One club are Buzz Aldrin, Charlie Duke, Alan Bean, Dave Scott, Ed Mitchell and Eugene Cernan, who was the last man on the moon.
Apollo 14 crew member Captain Mitchell, who died this month at the age of 85, was the sixth person on the moon, spending nine hours on its surface.
He appears in Mark's book Travels With My Scarf, which chronicles the writer's quest to present Walsall colours to the great and good, including Joan Collins, Leslie Nielsen, fight legend Roberto Duran and Star Trek's William Shatner.
Even Iron Mike Tyson donned the scarf during a Wolverhampton engagement.
But Mark, whose stream of charity marathons has earned him the title "Walsall's Running Ambassador", is particularly proud of tracking down the famous astronauts.
He is now searching, scarf-in-hand, for the final two moonwalkers, John Young and Harrison Schmitt.
The unusual book was launched last year to raise funds for St Giles Hospice.
Mark forged a friendship with Captain Mitchell, who retired from NASA in 1972, and wrote a number of books on psychic exploration. "I met him on a number of occasions, both in Birmingham and London and he features in my book Travels with my Scarf," said Mark.
"I converted him to the right football team in the end.
"I came desperately close to 'scarfing' John Young and Harrison Schmitt a year ago in Pontefract, Yorkshire. The hope is that I can still nab them, but time is against me - and them."
The Manor Hospital nurse has met his space heroes at numerous conferences. "Dave Scott thought I was giving him a school scarf," he laughed. "None have refused, but Buzz Aldrin was a bit reticent. It's the ultimate honour. They've got to the moon, received shedloads of accolades and, to cap it all, they got a Walsall scarf."
Sadly, the six astronauts snared by Mark may have visited the moon, but they're yet to visit The Banks's Stadium.
Mark's hobby is one step for man, one giant leap for The Saddlers.
It's a bit more glamorous than Mark's last venture. In 2013, he revealed he'd spent over PS50,000 as a "tomb tourist", travelling thousand of miles to visit the last resting place of such VIPs as Bruce Lee, in Seattle, Mao Tse-tung, in China, and John F Kennedy in Virginia.
| Mark Dabbs with astronauts Alan Bean, left and Buzz Aldrin
| Astronauts Charlie Duke, Eugene Cernan and Ed Mitchell
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|Publication:||Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)|
|Date:||Feb 14, 2016|
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