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Collins: ‘That’s for you Declan’
JAMES Collins dedicated his equaliser against his boyhood club to his best friend, who died after being hit by a train earlier this month.
The striker, a former Coventry season-ticket holder who was on the club’s youth books as a teenager, angered some Sky Blues fans by ripping off his shirt and sprinting over to their corner of the ground following his 79th-minute strike in the 2-2 draw on Saturday.
But Collins revealed after the match that the travelling supporters did not realise the significance of his actions.
“I think the fans misread the situation and gave me a bit of stick,” said the 21-year-old former Cardinal Wiseman schoolboy who still lived in the city with his parents until last summer when he left Shrewsbury to sign for the Robins.
“My best friend from Cardinal Wiseman, Declan Callum, only died last Thursday so I wanted to do well for him today and I dedicated the goal to him. “He was a Cov lad as well and he was due to be here for the game but unfortunately he was hit by a train near TGIs and passed away, so I was glad to do it for him.”
Callum, of Minton Road, Potter’s Green, had taken the day off work to ride his motorbike with friends on land near Brandon Woods on the outskirts of Coventry.
The group were off-road biking when he was struck by a train travelling between Birmingham and London at 12.17pm on Thursday, October 4. Mystery still surrounds how he came to be down on the track.
Collins added: “I wouldn’t say it was difficult for me to focus on the game today because it’s my job and I was more full of excitement than anything, getting out there against my old team, and I think the result was fair in the end.
“It was a great feeling for me personally to go on and get the equaliser against my boyhood club. Obviously I have always been a Cov supporter but the important thing was that we got back in the game and got level to 2-2 which, in the end, I thought we deserved.
“We had a couple of chances near the end to win it and I don’t think anyone could have complained had we done that, but Coventry came here and were 2-0 up after playing better than us in the first half and thoroughly deserved to be in the lead.
“It was a massive occasion for me today for lots of reasons.
“I have been looking forward to this game all season and it was nice to see the Coventry fans come here in great support, as they always do, and hopefully – being a Cov fan myself – I hope they do well this year. “I know it was just a bit of banter from the Cov fans when I scored and nothing personal. It’s just football.
“But I am a Swindon Town player so I have to do my job for them.”
Collins also revealed that he had held talks with former Coventry boss Andy Thorn in the summer regarding a potential move to the Ricoh, only for him to end up picking Swindon.
“I was close to signing for Cov,” he said.
“I met Andy Thorn in the summer and was shown around the Ricoh Arena but it didn’t happen in the end.
“I used to have a season ticket at Highfield Road and go to the games between the ages of seven and 11 with my dad.
“I can’t wait for the return fixture at the Ricoh when it will be great to get back to my home town and play against Coventry again.”
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