Leeds United: Sniffer Clarke shows he’s still on the ball

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AVID Leeds United fan Richard Sharp remembers nothing of his first meeting with club legend Allan Clarke.

The season ticket-holder was in a coma at Leeds General Infirmary after a car crash when the former striker paid him a surprise visit in 1982.

Allan Clarke with Richard Sharp.

Allan Clarke with Richard Sharp.

But Richard, of Hyde Park, was reunited with his hero at the hospital to mark the 30th anniversary of the accident – and to raise awareness of brain injury support services.

Mr Sharp’s brother, Michael, 53, who organised the visit, said: “It’s a mark of the man that he came to Richard’s bedside unannounced in 1982.

“For him to come back without hesitation now is amazing and we’re thrilled because he’s our hero.”

Mr Sharp, who was 19 at the time, was seriously injured when the car he was driving hit a lamppost after swerving to avoid a lorry on Dewsbury Road on April 29, 1982.

While he lay in a coma his family were advised by doctors to try various methods to coax a response from him. They persuaded Leeds players including John Lukic, Eddie Gray and Paul Hart, as well as Clarke, to record a message of support.

The tape, played on a loop, concluded with the manager ordering Richard to get back to the ground because the team – facing a Division One relegation battle at the time – needed him.

Clarke even made a surprise visit to LGI.

Mr Sharp slowly came out of his coma, but remained in hospital for a year and still relies on a wheelchair.

But he has remained a regular at Elland Road.

Michael said: “His love of Leeds United remains as strong as ever.”

The visit came at the end of Brain Injury Week.

Michael and his wife, Julie, have been running a stand for Headway, the brain injuries charity, at LGI.

Clarke said: “They do a lot of tremendous work. I like to think that the little that myself and Leeds United did helped Richard get back to how he is today.

“He’s still an ardent fan and I often see him at the games. If we played any small part it makes it worthwhile.”

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