Doncaster Rovers and Doncaster rugby league stars tour hospital children’s wards delivering presents to poorly youngsters.

Doncaster’s biggest sports stars swapped the pitch for the hospital – as they dished out gifts to poorly youngsters.

Some of the best known names from Doncaster Rovers football club and Doncaster rugby league team, turned out on the wards of Doncaster Children’s hospital to brighten the day for dozens of poorly youngsters who have been ill during the festive season.

John Marquis, Leo-Daniel Gellatly, aged three and Andy Butler

John Marquis, Leo-Daniel Gellatly, aged three and Andy Butler

And there was as much excitement among the staff and the mums and dads as the big names from both clubs toured the hospital, playing with some of the youngsters as they went around.

Little Emma Nelson comes from a long line of Rovers fans – and her mum was under strict instructions to take as many pictures as possible for her excited relatives.

Her mum Julie Norman, was poised with the camera, as she kept Rovers' Matty Blair and Doncaster rugby league star Jason Dali entertained as she unwrapped her present and then practiced putting it back in its box.

"Emma's been here since Tuesday," said Julie. “She's got chronic lung disease and bronchitis. Hopefully she will be able to go home today.

Mum and daughter Julie Norman, daughter Emma Nelson, with Doncaster Rovers Matty Blair and Doncaster rugby league star Jason Tali

Mum and daughter Julie Norman, daughter Emma Nelson, with Doncaster Rovers Matty Blair and Doncaster rugby league star Jason Tali

"It's been nice to have the players round. But her dad, James Nelson, is a big Rovers fan, and really wished he'd been here, as is her uncle, so James has said I must take lots of photos."

Three-year-old Leo-Daniel Gellatly, from Edlington, met up with Rovers stars John Marquis and Andy Butler, waving happily at the other Rovers and Dons stars.

He had been in hospital since November, having been on a life support machine because of respiratory problems.

Mum Steph Simpson was excited about her and Leo-Daniel meeting the players, as she's a keen footballer herself who played for Mexborough.

Luke Cade, Amy Hawthorne, Freddie Shaw, aged two, and Tommy Rowe

Luke Cade, Amy Hawthorne, Freddie Shaw, aged two, and Tommy Rowe

She said: "I'm actually a Coventry fan but its lovely to see the players."

Two-year-old Freddie Shaw smiled and giggled as he played catch with Matty Blair.

Mum Amy Hawthorne was delighted for her son to receive the visit.

Freddie suffers from a chronic lung disease, but hopes to be out of hospital before Christmas.

She said: "It's been great - there's only so much you can do to entertain your child in hospital yourself, so it was great to see the players from the football club and the rugby club. I think Freddie will be a Rovers fan now, and after seeing him throwing the balls around in here, I think he'll be a goalkeeper."

Rovers player Matty Blair is himself a father of a 19 month old son.

He said: "Coming here puts a lot in perspective in your own life and makes you realise how lucky you are to have a healthy child. But I think we all enjoy coming to visit the hospital. 

"I know Andy Butler has children too, and John Marquis has had a little girl this year.

"When we meet a two-year-old, they may not remember that in the future, but it breaks the day up for the mums and dads. My cousin's baby was in hospital for a long time after being born early.”

Medical director at the hospital Sewa Singh, a Rovers season ticket holder for the last eighty years, also popped down to see how the visit was going.

“It raises the spirits of the children," he said.

Jane Morgan, the assistant headteachers at the hospital's school, joined the players on the trip round the wards. She said she used to go to watch the Rovers, and her son was a big fan.

She said: "It helps make Christmas that much more bearable for children who are in hospital. It is is difficult for children being in hospital anyway, but at Christmas it's even more so. 

“Every year Rovers, and the Dons, visit, and they also make a large donation to us which is used to enhance the lives of the children here. Last year we used it to buy some lovely books, art equipment, games and CDs.”