CLOSE to death in hospital, Chris Evans decided if he survived he was going to make the most of his life.
He created a bucket list that included becoming a teacher, travelling the world and what turned out to be the toughest task of all… to become a Betfred Super League club mascot!
The transformation in former post office worker Chris’ life was 19 years ago, when he was involved in a freak accident near his home in Oldham while running home from a night out.
After falling onto a kerb Chris needed an emergency operation for traumatic pancreatitis.
He then contracted the MRSA superbug and spent six weeks in the hospital high dependence unit, during which his parents were told it was touch and go whether he would survive.
It was then Chris decided he was going to make a go of his life.
The 42-year-old visited North Korea, went on a trip to Chernobyl, fired a machine gun, watched a world heavyweight title fight in Vegas, swam with sharks and dolphins, walked with lions in Senegal, touched molten lava with a stick, visited the Mursi tribe in Ethiopia, appeared on ‘The Weakest Link,’ completed the Inca trail in Peru, cycled the most dangerous road in Bolivia, got a master’s degree, learned magic and visited Iceland.
But one of his toughest tasks, which has landed him a £1,000 prize from bookie Betfred, was to become the official mascot of a Betfred Super League club.
The problem was that all of the rugby league clubs near his home already had their own wacky mascots.
Chris said: “My mum was always into rugby league, supporting Oldham Roughyeds. I preferred football but it started to annoy me so I switched to rugby league.
“It was when I was on holiday with some pals that we were sat on a beach in Perpignan and decided to go and watch Catalans Dragons, who were playing St Helens.
“We chatted to some players and supporters afterwards and they basically became my team.
“When I was in hospital and making my bucket list I decided on one day becoming a rugby league club mascot, which I thought would be a good laugh.
“I’d been pumped with antibiotics after the operation and I remember watching one junior doctor being told off by another for telling me what my parents had already been told – that things were not looking good and it was touch or go whether I’d survive.
“I approached Catalans because I noticed they didn’t have a mascot when they played in the UK.
“I didn’t hear anything for a few months and then they said my offer had been accepted but I ended up having to get my own dragon costume.”
Since then, Chris has been the Catalans’ away mascot for the last four seasons, going to matches for free with the proviso that he adds to the atmosphere.
He’s now in with a chance of winning the £10,000 prize put up by league title sponsors Betfred, to be this season’s ‘Super Fan’.
Chris joins fellow competition winners, including the supporter from Oldham who dedicated his life to the grassroots Hollinwood team having overcome family tragedy.
Betfred boss Fred Done said: “It is extraordinary that Chris’ life has been totally transformed as he recuperated from his operation in hospital.
“We’re all passionate about rugby league, and no more so than the club mascots whose antics always provoke a chuckle.”