Former Cobblers winger Tommy Robson reveals motor neurone disease fight

Tommy Robson, pictured at the 50th anniversary dinner to celebrate the Cobblers' only season in the top flight of English football
Tommy Robson, pictured at the 50th anniversary dinner to celebrate the Cobblers' only season in the top flight of English football

Former Cobblers winger Tommy Robson, a member of the Dave Bowen team that played in the top flight of English football in the 1965-66 season, has revealed he is suffering from motor neurone disease.

The 75 year-old, who is the club record appearance holder for Town's rivals Peterborough United, was diagnosed recently, but says he’s determined to make the most of his remaining years.

Tommy Robson chats to fellow ex-Chelsea player Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink ahead of the Cobblers' clash against Peterborough United in April, 2018

Tommy Robson chats to fellow ex-Chelsea player Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink ahead of the Cobblers' clash against Peterborough United in April, 2018

Robson, who survived a triple by-pass heart operation six years ago, is due to see a specialist later this month when he will be told his life expectancy. There is no known cure for the disease.

The Gateshead-born player started his career with the Cobblers, signing on at the County Ground in 1961.

Robson was a key part of the team that won Town’s only promotion to the top flight of the English game, playing in 36 of the 42 league matches that saw Bowen’s men finish as runners-up in the second division behind Newcastle United.

Robson then made a further 15 league appearances in the top division for the Cobblers, scoring three goals - two in a 4-3 defeat to West Brom at the County Ground, and one in a 2-1 home defeat to Burnley - before being sold to Chelsea for £30,000.

In all, he scored 20 league goals for Town over a five-year stay.

After stints at Chelsea and Newcastle United, he signed for Posh for a record fee of £20,000 in 1968 and he has been part of the furniture at London Road ever since.

Robson made a record 559 appearances for the club in his 13-year playing stint, and only another former Cobbler Jim Hall has scored more than his 128 goals for Posh in the Football League era.

He he also had a stint in the Peterborough United commercial department and a spell as youth team manager, and to this day he still entertains sponsors and guests at home games.

Robson expects to have no more than three to four years to live so he hopes to be able to arrange a benefit football match and dinner to help pay for his care.

Robson lives with his wife Helen in Bretton. They live on their pensions.

Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph's Alan Swann, Robson said: "It’s all come as a shock as I’ve always been so active.

“But I am going to fight it for as long as I can. I’ve always done that. I thought I was a goner six years ago when I had a heart attack but I came through it.

“I first realised I had a problem about four months ago when my finger just locked.

“Most people apparently struggle with the muscles in their legs first, but for me it’s been in my arms. They are not working properly when I take them above waist height.

“There is no cure. There isn’t really any treatment apart from tablets so I’m now just waiting to hear how long I have left.

“Whatever they say I will keep working at the football club for as long as possible.

“In a way it’s harder for the families of sufferers than the sufferer themselves so I’m hoping to raise money to make things a bit easier for Helen in particular.

“The thought of a wheelchair and even a stairlift is not pleasant, but we will get on with things as best we can.

“It would be nice to arrange a game or a dinner to raise some money to help with my care.

“My son read that the illness has been linked with playing football in Italy so maybe I shouldn’t have kept playing so long. I was 62 when I last headed a ball!”