Lancaster City legend to retire as he battles cancer

Neil Marshall receives an award from club officials after reaching 400 appearances earlier in the season.
Neil Marshall receives an award from club officials after reaching 400 appearances earlier in the season.

A legend of the city’s football club has revealed he is again battling cancer.

Lancaster City captain Neil Marshall is to retire at the end of the season in order to spend more time with his family.

Having fought the illness on and off for five years, the 31-year-old now cannot have any more surgery on his groin, with the Blues stalwart on a course of tablets that could manage his condition for years to come.

Marshall, who has played for his hometown club for more than 10 years, said: “With the tablets I’ve got a gene that can be switched off.

“It’s just they don’t know for how long it will be switched off, it’s different for everybody.

“Some people it’s six to 12 months but the doctor also said she’s got a woman who has been on it for four years.

“It’s just depends on how it reacts.”

The father or two, who has made more than 400 appearances for City, plans to continue turning out in Dolly Blue until the season ends in April.

His decision to hang up his boots is more family-orientated, rather than down to his own physical well-being, as he plans to make the most of his time with wife Kim and children Max, four, and Daisy, two.

He said: “I don’t feel any different in myself.

Captain’s Column: Neil Marshall says thank you in his own words

“It’s internal in my groin but it doesn’t restrict my movements or anything.

“I don’t feel any pain when I’m playing, nothing.

“It’s not a physical thing I just want to spend more time with my kids.”

Marshall’s battle started around the time his son was born and it was hoped that the problem had been solved when a mole was removed.

But after further surgery a couple of years ago it has now reached a stage where he cannot got under the knife again.

Marshall, who lives yards from the club’s Giant Axe home on Beech Street, said: “I had a mole on my leg which was taken off and they didn’t expect it to come back.

“There’s always a chance it can but they said it’s only small.

“Then two years ago we found out it had spread to my lymph nodes and I had one out.

“Only one of them was infected and they thought they’d got it but it’s gone from there.

“I’ve now been told it’s gone past the stage of having an operation.

“It’s incurable but it’s manageable and treatable.”

A plumber by trade, Marshall is matter of fact in dealing with his diagnosis.

He said: “It’s hard but there’s not much you can do really.

“You try and not think about it a lot but you either get on with it and try and fight it or let it beat you.

“You do have some days where you think about it more but there’s no point thinking about it too much.”

Captain’s Column: Neil Marshall says thank you in his own words