sport news OLIVER HOLT: Even for a suffering man like Bill, it's belief that keeps us fans ...

Bill Turnbull's house sits off a narrow country lane amid the rich earth of ploughed fields a stone’s throw from the Suffolk coast. 

The promise of the sea lingers beyond the row of trees that flanks the main road to Aldeburgh where staycationers queue in long lines outside the two fish and chip shops on the high street and visitors sit in deckchairs and crunch across the pebble beach, enjoying the last of the summer sunshine.

Turnbull is sitting on the terrace at the back of the house. We talk about the of the hills above Macclesfield, where he lived when the BBC Breakfast show he presented for 15 years moved to Salford. 

Wycombe fan Bill Turnbull, who was diagnosed with incurable cancer, was able to see the Chairboys win promotion to the Championship

Wycombe fan Bill Turnbull, who was diagnosed with incurable cancer, was able to see the Chairboys win promotion to the Championship  

Wycombe Wanderers defied all odds to gain promotion to the Championship next season

Wycombe Wanderers defied all odds to gain promotion to the Championship next season

Now and again, he throws a tennis ball across the lawn for Lola, one of his black Labradors, to hunt down. Each time, she brings it back and gazes at him expectantly, tail wagging furiously, and the game begins again.

There is something reassuring in the repetition of an action and its cycle of accomplishment and renewal and his mind takes him back to mid-July when he stood on his feet in a near-empty stand at Wembley for the last 10 minutes of Wycombe Wanderers’ League One play-off final victory over Oxford United and chanted his team’s nickname over and over and over again in the echoing stadium until the full-time whistle blew and tears began to stream down his face.

It is three years since Bill, 64, was diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer and attending the staging posts in the improbable rise of the Chairboys, who he has supported for more than 20 years, has become one of his favourite distractions. 

He was one of only a couple of hundred people inside the stadium when they had their finest hour that summer evening and there was something about their against-all-odds victory that unlocked his emotions.

Sadly for fans it had to be inside an empty Wembley, but Turnbull got to see his side win

Sadly for fans it had to be inside an empty Wembley, but Turnbull got to see his side win

One of the mantras I have,’ he says, ‘is that you should try to have a moment of joy every day. Everybody should but particularly if you are dealing with an illness. Try to have a moment of joy. I had moments of joy to last me for months from that night.’

It was football that got to him that night at Wembley, he says. It was the feeling of togetherness and family and home and community that you get when you support a club through thick and thin, particularly a lower league club like Wycombe.

It was all the shared history, all the matches he had been to at Adams Park with his children, all the people at the club he knew, all the kindness the manager, Gareth Ainsworth, has shown him since he has been ill, the way the club have included him through all their vicissitudes, all the memories he has.

He remembers the time he and his wife, Sarah, and their three kids gathered in a circle and held hands in the darkness of a power cut as they listened to the radio and willed Wycombe to a famous FA Cup penalty shootout win over Wimbledon in 2001. He remembers being in the Holte End at Villa Park when Wycombe held Liverpool to a draw for 78 minutes in the cup semi-final the same season.

He remembers all the years he commentated on home matches for the club website. He says: ‘It was spectacularly unprofessional and biased, especially against refs.’

He remembers the relegations he witnessed, the great escape from the drop on the last day of the season at Torquay in 2014 that he missed because he had not been able to bear the thought of more desolation if it had gone wrong. 

And he remembers how, for a spell one season, partridges would alight on the Adams Park pitch that nestles in a nook in the Chilterns as the light faded in the second half on winter afternoons. ‘They’d been shot at all day, probably,’ he says.

He mocks me gently when I suggest that maybe there is an emotional link for him between Wycombe’s fight against adversity — they were tipped to be relegated at the start of last season when they were up against giants like and

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