Leed’s rugby league legend Rob Burrow failed to hold back the tears yesterday as he took part in a sell out fundraising match at his beloved Headingly stadium alongside a host of his former team mates.
The pre season game against rivals Bradford Bulls which was originally part of the testimonial events for former team mate and great friend Jamie Jones Buchanan, who had no hesitation in agreeing to share the event splitting the proceeds and pushing Burrow into the lime light when the 37 year old announced he had Motor Neurone disease which effects nerves in the
brain and spinal cord function. just weeks ago.
Walking on to the field alongside JJB prior to kick off an emotional Burrow and his three young children stood in front of 20,000 fans from all over the country that had travelled to witness what was to be an hestoric 80 minutes.
The main game itself was a tough encounter with the Championship side Bradford failing to handle the power and speed of their full time counter parts as Papua New Guinea International Rhyse Martin helped himself to two tries and five goals in the 34-10 victory.
However, for once the score was of secondary importance as in the final minutes a host of former players from both sides including the recently retired JJB, Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai, Danny McGuire, Robbie Hunter-Paul, Stuart Fielden and Nathan McAvoy all took to the field one more time for their former team mate and friend. Even Burrow himself entered the field to a standing ovation for the final emotional few minutes of the game.
Speaking to the sky camera’s who had also donated their time, equipment and expertise to broadcast the sell out game Burrow said;
“I was tired but I absolutely loved every minute, you don't know how much it means. No words will come close to describing how I feel right now. Thank you so much.”
With the disease obviously already effecting his speech the former England and Great Britain international also added:
“It's hard to put into words. I've been struggling with my words anyway. I'm overwhelmed and humbled. It really meant something.
“In rugby league we stay together and look after our own. Today was an example of what our game is all about.
“I'm not one for the limelight but it's been a big day. After this I've got some stuff tomorrow and when that settles it's back to normal life. That's changing nappies and a bit of coaching and the sooner I get back to that the better. But how can you not enjoy a day like today.”
After the game the Bradford Bulls club also donated all their proceeds from the game to the fund set up for the Burrows family.
This is just one way in which the sport has come together for one of its own as players, former players, clubs and fans from around the world have helped to raise over £245,000 since the that day in December when the announcement broke.