Claret Martin Paterson’s tribute to inspirational young cancer sufferer

Martin Paterson reflects on a near miss.'''Photos by Andrew Smith
Martin Paterson reflects on a near miss.'''Photos by Andrew Smith
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SOMETIMES it takes “A Christmas Carol” to put life’s struggles in to perspective.

The novella tells of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation after the supernatural visits of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.

And it’s been a similar journey for Clarets’ striker Martin Paterson.

The 24-year-old exercised his demons from the past, after falling to injury twice against Doncaster Rovers in the space of three months, by haunting the same opposition in the 3-0 win on Boxing Day. And it’s taken a brave six-year-old called James Hakin, an inspiring character who has had a huge impact on the protagonist similar to that of Charles Dickens’ Tiny Tim, to help the striker be gracious for the opportunity to play in Christmases Yet to Come.

“I said to the kitman I don’t really want to play Doncaster as I got injured twice but I don’t have any weakness mentally, I’m brave enough to face anything after the year I’ve had,” said Pato.

“It’s tough but it’s not tougher than what people have to deal with in certain situations in life. I’ve just had a little injury that’s been difficult to get over but if you put it in to real life terms it’s not been that difficult.

“I met a boy the other day who is battling with leukaemia and I think that put a lot of things in perspective for me. The brave little man is fighting leukaemia and I’m feeling sorry for myself because I’ve got a bad thigh. It’s been difficult for me but it’s not the end of the world. Hopefully now I’ve come to the end of it.”

Paterson added: “I think the year I’ve had has given me more character and strength. It was obviously a negative being injured but coming back and being stronger for it has been a life lesson.”

Paterson’s first goal since January’s strike versus Burton Albion in the FA Cup, in only his 18th appearance since the start of last season, came in the 84th minute as he reacted first to nod home Jay Rodriguez’s thunderous half-volley which crashed against the underside of the bar and on to the line.

“I’ve looked at the replay and it’s my goal. I’ve actually tried to claim the penalty but Jay Rod’s not having it,” he joked. “It was emotional. I’ve just wanted to play football and I’ve been able to and scored a goal so I’m delighted.

“It’s a little bit selfish but I’m delighted for myself as I have battled away and it has taken a lot of hard work. Sometimes people don’t see the work you put in as a footballer, it’s a bit under-rated. But I’m not going to moan, it’s part of life and I’ve come through it. I feel 100% fit and raring to go.”

The Clarets now go in to the final game of 2011 against Hull City with five wins from six games, which coincidentally began in the comeback against the Tigers at the KC Stadium, and just three points shy of the Championship play-off spots.

“I think it’s always been coming, we always believed in ourselves but in this league you can’t take anything for granted,” said Paterson. “We go out there and give the performances and today we were deserving winners. Things are looking in the right way at the moment. This league is so tight and week by week it can change but at the moment things are going our way. We know we need to kick on now.”

He added: “I’m not sure if I’m back to my best but I’m able to run around and sprint like I want to and like I used to do. I’ve just got to take it by every little step now, game by game, and do the best I can. I might find it hard to stay in the team with the quality we have but every chance I’m given I’ll give it my best and hopefully I’ll score more.”