WHILE many people get carried away with the ups and downs of the football season, there’s a battle going on 40 miles down the road in Bury which is much more important.
Gary Parkinson, the Seasiders’ youth team coach, is on the long road to recovery after suffering a stroke in 2010.
The 44-year-old was left with locked-in syndrome, a condition of almost total paralysis.
Pool’s assistant manager Steve Thompson is a regular visitor, and has urged fans not to forget his colleague.
“I went to see him last week, it’s still slow but sure progress,” said Thompson.
“Gordon Taylor at the PFA is going to try to pay for a speech therapist which will be fantastic.
“Gary’s wife Debbie was telling me they are quietly confident he’ll be able to speak again, which is a massive positive for him.”
“They are working on getting his jaw moving again, to strengthen it and get it working.
“He’s had botox into it, and the speech therapist is confident he can get him talking again one day.”
The world of football has rallied around the former full-back with a number of fundraising events to support his care and family.
And after almost two years in hospital, the next step is to get Parkinson back home.
Thompson said: “They are hoping to get him out of the Priory Hospital, and into his house.
“To do that, they need to install a lift to get him up to his bedroom, so we are hoping to raise the money to pay for that.
“That will be a huge boost to him. Being at home might just trigger something off with the people he loves around in.
“We are hoping that could maybe spark something to get him out of this horrible condition he finds himself in.
“Sitting in a hospital all day must be so difficult for him.
“We want him back at home with his family, where his daughters can sit on his knee and speak to him.”
The Gary Parkinson Trust has raised more than £80,000 so far, which has paid for his hospital treatment and to allow his family to pay their mortgage and bills. And Thompson said it’s important people keep supporting him.
“It’s all about us remembering him and being there for Debbie and his family,” he said. “It’s a long road, which no one knows the end of.
“But when you go in and you see his face light up when he sees you, it’s worth everything.
“He’s doing his fixed odds and betting on the horses like he always did.
“He’s stuck in one of the worst conditions you could imagine, but we will always be supporting him.
“We want to get him home and hope that one day we can get the Parky we know and love back.”
Thompson’s daughter Stephanie, who works in Blackpool FC’s ticket office, is the latest to take part in an event to raise money for the cause.
The 21-year-old will cycle to Burnley next month and is looking for sponsorship.
Her ride has been supported by the whole Blackpool squad, and fans are encouraged to get behind the cause.
“”My daughter has decided to cycle to Burnley to raise money for him, which is brilliant.
“She decided to do it off her own back, and it’s been supported so well.
“She’s in training at the moment, and it’s great.
“If anyone can help with equipment or sponsorship, please contact Steph at the ticket office.
“We passed a sponsorship form around the dressing room and all the lads, even ones who don’t know Parky have pledged cash.
“That sums the lads up at Blackpool doesn’t it, we’ll always look after our own.
“The lads don’t even bat an eyelid, they just support us and everything we do.
“Steph’s cycle is one of many things we are doing.
“We’ll support him for as long as it takes.”