Whole town of well-wishers to ‘one of the nicest’ in Atherstone Ball Game steward Martyn Burton

  Posted: 27.02.20 at 17:44 by Nick Hudson

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Well-wishers are willing stricken Atherstone Ball Game official Martyn Burton back to good health.

The 38-year-old whose collapse with a suspected heart attack forced organisers to curtail the world-famous Shrovetide event is said to be “very poorly”.

Ball game secretary Janeen Bernard described his condition at Coventry’s Walsgrave Hospital as “critical but stable” but repeated the family’s desire for space and privacy in the immediacy of Tuesday’s medical emergency.

Hundreds of townsfolk have taken to social media forums to offer encouragement to “keep up the fight” on a hoped-for road to recovery.

Described as “one of the nicest people”, the long-serving steward collapsed after asking for a glass of water in the event headquarters at Atherstone Conservative Club – half-way through the 821st time the game had been played since the reign of King Richard I in the year 1199.

It is not known whether the event has ever been brought to a halt for a reason not involving players or the ball.

What fire, floods, tempest, two world wars and legislation – in the form of the Highways Act 1835 which saw Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel’s government determined to stamp out violent games in the streets of Britain – failed to do, the 40-year-old secretary achieved by calling the event to a dramatic end after realising the seriousness of the official’s condition.

The game’s first responders reportedly twice revived Mr Burton before he was airlifted to hospital.

“I felt what I did in bringing the event to a close without a winner being declared was the right thing to do,” said Mrs Bernard told Nub News on Tuesday.

The well-wishers on Atherstone People’s Forum spoke of the correctness of that decision.

“It was the right thing to do to stop the game so everyone could concentrate on the steward and out of respect for him, get well soon,” said Joe Wall.

‘Speedy recovery’ is the main sentiment expressed with Atherstone Town Community Football Club offering their “thoughts and prayers to Martyn Burton and family”.

Sarah Jones posted: "Wishing you a speedy recovery Martyn from all the staff and managment at The Clock pub in Atherstone."

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