PHOTOS: Lifelong Saints fan suffering from Parkinson’s gets St Mary’s trip of a lifetime

By Rebecca Hudson

A DIE-HARD Saints fan suffering from Parkinson’s was surprised with a VIP visit to the football club he’s supported for 70 years.

Geoff Hull, 77, has been supporting Southampton FC since he was eight, when his Southampton-mad dad would take him along to games.

He’s been abroad to watch the club play in Switzerland and was even lucky enough to watch them win the FA Cup in a 1-0 win over Manchester United in 1976.

And earlier this month, Sandra Smith, home admissions advisor at Gracewell of Salisbury, where Geoff has been a resident for two years, organised a VIP tour of St. Mary’s stadium for Geoff.

Geoff, who grew up in Andover but moved to Salisbury after retiring 20 years ago, used to watch every match the club played and said he would continue supporting the club “as long as I am able to”.

He said: “They are the best team.”

“I enjoyed it, very much so. The thing that struck me more than anything was the sheer size of it really.”

But he said: “My ability to support them is reducing because of the Parkinson’s.”

Staff at the home said visiting the club had been “one of Geoff’s greatest ambitions, despite his health deteriorating in recent months”.

Geoff was treated to a VIP tour of the stadium’s press lounge, the chairman’s office, the trophy cabinet and even spent some time on the pitch.

Gracewell are putting together a photo book from the day that will be sent back to the club to be signed as a keepsake for Geoff and staff also bought him a Southampton football shirt.

Geoff was a keen footballer as a younger man, before knee injuries stopped him playing, and has passed the love of the game on to his son.

“He’s like me, he’s the best football player in the world,” he said. “But he’s the only one who thinks so.”

His other interests include travel, and he and partner Jenny travelled the world after his retirement, and 50s and 60s rock and roll.

Geoff used to work for the MOD around Salisbury Plain, Winchester and Andover, but also worked abroad in Singapore.

He has two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.