On Saturday, February 9, Watford FC have given our charity, the Wilmington Close-based British Polio Fellowship, permission to hold our annual collection at the game against Everton FC.

Members of our local polio group will be helping at the match and anticipating welcome financial support from the fans.

There may not seem to be much of a link between disabled people affected by a vicious and sometimes fatal illness, which was eradicated in Europe decades ago, and a hugely popular sport enjoyed to date by millions. However, a single death in 1959 is still a poignant link and memory. Jeff Hall, captain of Birmingham City, capped 17 times for England, FA Cup player in 1956, was at the top of his game. Two days after an away game at Portsmouth FC he fell ill with polio and he died four days later aged just 29. The whole nation was in shock and an initiative was carried out by all the Leagues concerned to publish photos of every team being vaccinated against polio (including Watford FC). The publicity worked and long queues formed at inoculation centres and resulted in the eradication of annual epidemics.

Polio is now a forgotten disease but our charity helps the many survivors left (an estimated 110,000 in Great Britain).

We are looking forward to a good day at Vicarage Road and, once again, thank the club for their support.

David Mitchell

National Chairman, British Polio Fellowship