Injured Guardsman James Johnson will cheer his beloved Grimsby Town on while recovering at centre
COURAGEOUS Cleethorpes Grenadier Guardsman James Johnson is gunning for Grimsby for their Wembley cup clash.
Spinal injuries he received in Afghanistan, where he was nearly crushed to death by a collapsed wall, mean James won't be able to be at the home of English football to cheer on The Mariners.
Instead, he will watch the FA Trophy final on TV from Headley Court, the specialist hospital which treats injured servicemen and women.
And he will not be the only avid Town fan to be accompanying the squad in spirit.
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The family of dedicated Mariner Matthew Dawson, the teenage cancer victim who sadly died in August 2011, will be taking his ashes along to the match.
James, 29, moved to Headley Court from a spinal treatment centre at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, three weeks ago.
He has also been following Town's progress and preparations on his laptop from his bed, regularly logging on to www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk to find out all the latest news – and his delighted mum Carole said news of their FA cup clash had given him a "real lift".
She said her son was now recovering well and had even been able to accompany his family for a celebratory meal at a restaurant near Headley Court.
She said: "He is right behind Grimsby Town all the way. Although he is getting stronger, he is not fit enough to go to Wembley, but he is going to be there in spirit.
"Wembley has given him a real lift."
James was on his first Afghan tour when a series of explosions caused the wall of a compound to collapse on top of him during a battle with Taliban fighters in August last year.
He was less than a month away from returning to the UK to begin training for his Corporal exams.
It took five of his comrades to haul the massive rocks off his body. He was taken from the compound in Helmand Province to Camp Bastion and flown back to the Royal Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in an induced coma.
Since then he has battled to get back on his feet and vowed he would do his utmost to inspire his beloved Grimsby Town to get back up into the football league.
Carole added: "It is better seeing him more with it and active. He can get in and out of his bed and into his chair, but not much more. It does give him some independence and he is feeling good."
His brother Ben, 17, is also looking forward to collecting a cheque for £900 raised for the Army Benevolent Fund by pupils at Humberston Church of England primary school, where James attended as a child.
School spokeswoman Paula Bolton said: "Each year parents attending the school Christmas plays support a raffle and the money is raised for a good cause.
"As James was one of our pupils, headteacher Richard Dawson asked Carole what she would like the money to go towards and she picked the Army Benevolent Fund."