Poor old John Hartson has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. And it's the nasty advanced type that's spread to his brain. It sounds very similar to the cancer which very nearly killed Lance Armstrong. To be truthful, the prognosis is not great with this particular ailment: he has a long and painful programme of chemotherapy ahead of him.
There is no truth to the rumour that his doctors have called Eyal Berkovic and asked him to come around and kick the cancer out of Hartson’s head. This is not a therapy with a great track record, but would at least provide a neat sense of circular justice.
Testicular cancer appears to be the curse of the footballer. You never hear about footballers with bowel cancer, or lung cancer – I suppose the days are now gone when footballer would have a fag at half time. Former England international Geoff Thomas contracted leukaemia and has been a tireless campaigner since his recovery, but it seems to be testicular cancer which most often strikes down the footballer.
One famous survivor is Alan Stubbs. He was at Celtic when he was diagnosed and, as the Glasgow footballing community is famous for its even-handed approach to inter-club rivalry, fans were as sympathetic as you might expect.
When he recovered, the usual rib-tickling dressing room banter ended by giving him the predictable nickname Womble Stubbs. Womble, as in, “Stubbsy, has only got one ball (womble).” Genius.
I genuinely wish Hartson the very best recovery and, if he is as single minded as Lance Armstrong, he may even end up captaining Real Madrid to the Champions’ League in a couple of years. Frankly, as a former Wimbledon player, I’m sure he’ll settle for a starting place in the Womble XI.