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Swansea Town legend's medal sells for £21,600

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: April 25, 2014

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A MEDAL awarded to a Swansea Town legend who risked his life to save two colleagues during the First World War has sold for £21,600 at auction.

The gold Albert Medal, awarded by King George V to Lance-Corporal James Collins, was only expected to fetch between £5,000 to £7,000 at Spink, in Bloomsbury, London.

But the bidding became frenetic, and the medal was eventually snapped by a mystery bidder with deep pockets.

Just 70 gold Albert Medals were awarded between 1866 and 1971, when they were replaced by the George Cross.

According to the citation, Collins, who served with the Royal Army Medical Corps, was awarded the medal after a traumatic incident in France on November 11, 1917, when a "lunatic" soldier escaped from his escort and ran along a trench.

Collins ran after him but when he got near, the man pulled a pin from a grenade.

In a bid to save the man and two other soldiers nearby, Collins put his foot on the grenade, which exploded. The "lunatic" was killed and Collins was severely injured, but the two other soldiers were unharmed.

Collins's feet were riddled with shrapnel and threatened with amputation.

But he refused to have the chop and instead underwent 14 operations — and then went to star for Swansea Town for 15 years.

During his football career, with shrapnel still in his toes and ankles, he captained the Third Division South championship-winning team of 1924/25.

The following season he led the Swans to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, the furthest they had gone in the competition.

Collins was born in Lochee, near Dundee in Scotland, and returned there in later years. He died on September 20,1963, at the age of 67.

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