Scots ice hockey community raises thousands for stricken fan

Jamie Wilson, centre, has been described as the "biggest fan" of the Glasgow Clan ice hockey team. Picture: Contributed
Jamie Wilson, centre, has been described as the "biggest fan" of the Glasgow Clan ice hockey team. Picture: Contributed
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The close knit community of Scottish ice hockey is rallying around one of its most devoted fans in an attempt to fly him home to Scotland after he fell seriously ill abroad.

Jamie Wilson, a longstanding supporter of the Glasgow Clan team, was on a family holiday to Mexico when he took unwell. The 41-year-old, who has spina bifida, underwent an operation but after experiencing complications, he is in a coma.

Now, his fellow fans have launched a crowdfunding appeal to help him return to Glasgow and receive care.

In the space of less than 24 hours, thousands of pounds has already been raised for Mr Wilson, from Paisley, with professional players who forged friendships with Mr Wilson among those lending their support to the campaign.

Glasgow Clan said it was “deeply concerned” to learn about the plight of “one of our most passionate fans” and said it was looking into how it could help Mr Wilson and his family.

Bari McKenzie, who turned out for the Elite Ice Hockey League side for three seasons, helping them to two top three finishes, said he and his girlfriend became good friends with Mr Wilson during his time with the Braehead-based club.

The 32-year-old told The Scotsman: “Jamie has been going to Clan games since day one. I only signed for the team in 2015, but even before then, when I was visiting Braehead as an away player, he would always be there and I would always stop and speak with him.

“He’s a lovely, lovely guy who’s so polite and it always meant so much for him to chat with the players for a few minutes at a game.

“He always used to tell me I was his favourite player, and I’d just joke with him, saying, ‘Yeah, I’d better be!’ He’s such a nice wee guy, and after the games, I’d see him at Bar Varia in Braehead having food or a drink and we’d have a chat, and I’d wait with him outside to make sure he got his taxi home.”

The forward, who now plays for Fife Flyers, added: “When I heard what happened I was upset and shocked, and you just have to try and do what you can to help. It’s a horrible situation and I just really feel for him and his family. A lot of the players do.

“I mentioned yesterday to Scott Aarssen [a Canadian ice hockey player with the Fife Flyers] what had happened and he was shocked too. It’s crazy the amount of support from players who played for the Clan and other teams in the league.

“The fact so many people are taking the time to try and help Jamie shows how much he is loved in the hockey world. To be honest with you, if you speak with any ice hockey fan in Scotland, they will know Jamie. He is that well thought of.”

Susan Gibson, a Glasgow Clan fan who started the crowdfunding appeal, said Mr Wilson was the club’s “biggest fan” and described his fellow supporters as his “extended family.”

She added: “Jamie is such a lovely man and he would chat away to you until he was blue in the face. I’ve been blown away at the response to the appeal so far, and it shows the close connection Jamie had with all his fellow fans and supporters.”

In a statement, Glasgow Clan said: “The Glasgow Clan are deeply concerned to hear of the terrible situation surrounding one of our most passionate fans, Jamie Wilson, who has taken seriously ill while on holiday in Mexico.

“Whilst facing serious medical issues, the biggest focus at the moment is finding a way together to help get Jamie back home safely and swiftly to receive quality medical care.

“Jamie is an ever present fixture at Clan games and as we all know he is a happy, outgoing, positive person.

“The club would like pass on our support to Jamie, his family and friends.”

Since going live on Tuesday, the appeal has raised more than £2,800 towards its £10,000 goal.

Others who have donated also praised Mr Wilson’s devotion to the Braehead side.

Maureen Smyth said: “Jamie is a weel-kent face around Braehead and full of mischief. He’ll never let me forget about leaving Bar Varia without paying for my meal!”

Joanne Currie described him as “the nicest, kindest and most generous man I know,” while Marny and Jim Clark added: “Jamie is full of life with a great sense of humour and just a top guy.”

Anyone who wishes to donate should visit www.gofundme.com/get-jamie-home