Leamington skipper Jack Edwards says he has been overwhelmed by the response to his fundraising effort for James Mace.
Edwards set up a GoFundMe page last week to help foot the cost of the surgery Mace will need to repair his damaged Medial and Anterior Cruciate Ligaments (ACL), with initial pledges already totalling more than £2,000.
The aim is to raise £5,000 for the long-serving defender to enable him to have the operation privately.
And with Mace having been forced to give up his work as a tree surgeon, Edwards says time is of the essence as the 35-year-old struggles to sustain his young family.
“As much as we’re having a bad time of it at the moment, there’s lots of goodwill being shown,” he said.
“I’ve been impressed with how many people have shared the site and donated.
“So many people have made contributions, including ex-players. Darren Pond, Danny Udoh, he’s gone through a similar thing.
“People realise that when you’re playing and in a full-time job you’ve got to look after your family, your other half, balance work demands and it can be really challenging.”
Mace is receiving a small sum each month from his insurance company to part-cover his employment losses. However, while two Brakes players who have recently undergone the same surgery, Colby Bishop and Connor Gudger, had their surgery part-funded by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), there is no such safety net in place for Mace.
“For Colby Bishop and Connor they had played at professional clubs and can access a fund from the PFA that pays 80-90 per cent,” explained Edwards.
“For players like myself and Mace who have come from the lower leagues there is no provision for funding for the operation or for rehabilitation.
“The PFA have a rehabilitation centre at St George’s Park that you can use if you have been involved with a full-time club.
“If Mace went through the NHS, especially with the coronavirus, we don’t know when the operation would happen, it’s like how long is the piece of string.”
Edwards has no doubt, however, that despite the severity of his injury, Mace will return to the Leamington side to break the all-time appearance record for the club, currently held by Josh Blake.
“Mace is one of those people, no fear, who can come back better and stronger.
“Connor Gudger had his operation around Christmas time and he’s well on the road but I joked with him that Mace will beat him back.”
l You can contribute towards the cost of Mace’s operation by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/f/james-mace-acl-reconstruction