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Tributes made as ex-Blackpool, Morecambe, Altrincham player dies aged 37

Tributes have been made as ex-Blackpool, Morecambe, Altrincham player George Melling sadly dies aged just 37, confirmed earlier this week.

Melling bravely battled with motor neurone disease, after being diagnosed with the life-limiting condition in January 2021 after first noticing symptoms a year ago.

He died in the early hours of Monday morning (April 11th), and paying respect to George, his wife Nicci described him as a “fantastic father” and the “life and soul of the party.”

George Melling with his children Isabelle and Jacob, alongside Nicci Kendall, and her son Kaiser.

George Melling with his children and Nicci (Photo: LancsLive)

She said: “Heaven gained the best angel early hours this morning and we were all by his side right to the very end.

“Everyone is so very proud of the horrendous battle that you tried so hard to fight.

“MND is not the definition of George Melling, it was just the cruel disease that took him away from us.”

“He was a fantastic father … and I’m so very proud to call him my husband.

“You really will leave a massive hole in everybody’s hearts.”

Non league side Longridge Town Football Club also paid tribute to their former captain, writing that he will be “forever remembered by all of us.”

“It is with a heartbreaking sadness that the club has learnt of the death of former Captain George Melling,” a spokesman said.

“George was more than a player and Captain for Longridge Town FC. He was one of us, a longtime friend of both Ashey and Kieran, a leader and a winner.

“He will be forever remembered by all of us at Longridge Town, and sorely missed.”

Colne FC said: “The club is saddened to learn of the passing of former Red, George Melling following his battle with Motor Neurone Disease. RIP George.”

Clitheroe FC added: “[We] would like to offer sincere condolences to the family of our former player George Melling who has sadly passed away after his long standing battle with Motor Neurone disease.

“Godspeed and RIP.”

He, friends and former colleagues came together to raise awareness of MND and created the social media hashtag #helpbigGfightMND.

GoFundMe page raised more than £12,300 to support George and his family, with some of the money going to the MND Association and The Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience.

A touching video was uploaded of George and Nicci’s wedding in November 2021, and what a special heartfelt occasion it was…

A month after being diagnosed, George spoke about his battle with MND, saying with his wedding in mind: “I have to be positive. Every day is a new day and I want to walk down that aisle and have that first dance”.

George, who also was an engineer on rollercoasters, first noticed his arm muscles twitching in February last year, which then spread to his legs, and then he started experiencing cramps.

George said: “I saw a doctor and he said it can’t be MND. I had a neck and spine scan and that was all clear. Then I had a blood test, and that was all clear.

“Then in August, my speech started to be slurred ans it’s gradually got worse. I sound like I’m really drunk now, but I’m not.”

George saw a neurologist at the Royal Preston Hospital at the end of January, and was given the devastating news that he was suffering from MND.

He said: “Me and Nicola were taken into a side room where there was a diagram and the word MND written on a board. Then we were left alone. We just sat and cried for 10 minutes.

“But I knew from day one that it was MND. I’d already mentally battled it. I knew my own body from footballing injuries and I’d watched a documentary on it and I could see the similarities.”

The MND Team at the Royal Preston Hospital put George in touch with one of Europe’s top neurologists, Professor Dame Pamela Shaw at Sheffield University, and he started a trial drug.

He said: “This drug first came out in 2013, and it replaces damaged cells in the motor part of the brain.

“They’ve given it to people who’ve been in wheelchairs for two-and-a-half years, and all of a sudden, they can stand up again.

“So there is hope. Fingers crossed, we’re very close to a cure.

“This is why I need to put something back. I need to raise as much awareness as possible so that people donate money and the cure can come quicker. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this.”

He said: “Me and Nicola were going to get married in two years’ time, but we’ve moved it forward to this summer, Covid-permitting.

“I want to walk down that aisle, I want that first dance.

“I have to stay focused and believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I do. I’m struggling to walk and my speech is slurred, but mentally I’m fantastic. I’m better than ever.

“I haven’t had a drink since New Year’s Day and I feel so sharp.”

Advice and information for people who need more information about Motor Neurone Disease

MND (Motor Neurone Disease)


End of life care plan information

Comprehensive help and information from NHS Choices including symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, including links to external sites.

MND Association

MND Connect: 0808 802 6262


The Motor Neurone Disease Association is the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that funds and promotes global research into the disease and provides support for people affected by MND. The helpline provides advice, practical and emotional support and directing to other services and agencies, for people living with MND, carers, family members, Health and Social Care Professionals and Association staff and volunteers. Open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5pm.

The Brain & Spine Foundation

Helpline: 0808 808 1000

Motor Neurone Disease

The Brain and Spine Helpline is staffed by neuroscience nurses and other health professionals. It covers all neurological conditions, from the fairly common to the very rare, and can offer information and support on any medical or related social and emotional issues of concern.

The service answers queries by telephone, letter or email as well as providing an opportunity for people to share their experiences of having a neurological condition on the discussion forum.

Tributes were made as the ex-Blackpool, Morecambe, Altrincham player dies from MND aged 37…

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