One of Huddersfield Town’s best-known fans whose life was left hanging by a thread after he was assaulted in May has spoken for the first time about his ordeal.
Father-of-five Andrew Cruickshanks, 53, better known as Totty, spent almost seven weeks at Leeds General Infirmary following the attack at Stone Fold, Honley.
He was attacked after attending Town’s first leg play-off semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday and didn’t know about Town’s promotion to the Premier League – until weeks later.
Andrew, of Holmfirth, who has been a Town supporter since 1974, was airlifted by helicopter to hospital and was in a coma for three weeks as medics sought to save his life.
He was in a critical condition and needed surgery to ease pressure on his brain and says he had four bleeds on the brain, two Clostridium difficile infections and a bout of pneumonia.
More than 125 messages of support from fellow Town fans were left on Facebook praying for his recovery and a spokesman for Huddersfield Town said everyone at the club was saddened to learn of his condition and hoped he made a full recovery.
Andrew, a former children’s football coach, who is now on benefits, said: “I can’t remember anything about the incident at all. Police officers are coming to see me but I can’t even remember watching the Sheffield Wednesday match.
“The doctors say I have made a remarkable recovery. I’m very lucky to be alive. There were a few scary times in hospital, that’s for sure. But I’ve no hearing in my right ear, I’ve lost four front teeth and have no sense of smell though in six months I’m told there may be some improvement.
“The first day I woke up I was told that Town had been promoted but it didn’t mean anything to me. It took a couple of weeks for me to take it all in.
“I’ve been told that I smiled when I was told that Town had been promoted.
“I know that all the nurses and staff had the radio on when Town were at Wembley and were cheering for us with banners etc.
“It was only when I came out of hospital that I got excited about it.
“I would have loved to have gone to Town’s first match of the Premier League at Crystal Palace this weekend but I’m not up to it.
“I’m 50-50 for the Town/Newcastle United match. The problem is that if I’m in a crowd it all becomes jumbled. One of the doctors told me if you go out for a pint you will last 10 minutes. I suffer from diabetes, anxiety, get tired very easily and I get dizzy quite a lot. There have been times when I thought I ought to be back in hospital.
“I have collapsed at home and I’m prone to epileptic fits.”
However, he says he will be following Town on TV and is delighted by Town’s promotion which he says “means everything to me. I never thought I would love to see it. And if it’s only for one season I will die with a smile on my face.
“I supported Town when they were in the Third Division and I have been everywhere following them even to Portugal. Town have been a massive part of my life. I used to live for the weekends. Going to watch the Newcastle match, that’s my goal.
“I can’t believe how many messages of support I received from friends many of whom turned up to the hospital but were unable to see me because of the seriousness of my condition.
“Without the support of my partner, Fung Lee, who has cared for me since the incident I wouldn’t be here now. She came to see me every day. She has had to wash, dress me and make my food. If it wasn’t for Lee I would still be in hospital.
Lee, 52, said: “He looked terrible. There were tubes everywhere.”
A 49-year-old man from Huddersfield was arrested in connection with the incident and was released pending further enquiries after being questioned by detectives.