CHAR­LIE’S IN A RACE TO GET UN­DER ARCH FOR KICK OFF

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW - By Matt Bad­cock

HAV­ING re­cently com­pleted an epic run­ning chal­lenge of 250 miles in seven days, Char­lie Web­ster wasn’t plan­ning on go­ing all out for to­day’s Lon­don Marathon – but then Sh­effield United got to Wem­b­ley!

Sky Sports pre­sen­ter Char­lie took on the 250-mile test at the end of Jan­uary to raise money for Women’s Aid.

She vis­ited 40 foot­ball clubs along the way, de­spite be­ing ad­mit­ted to A&E twice and told by doc­tors to stop when her legs swelled.

So, with that in mind, to­day’s 26.2 mile run around Lon­don – her eighth stand-alone marathon – was one to be en­joyed rather than en­dured for the life­long Blade.

But with Nigel Clough’s side set to kick-off their FA Cup semi-fi­nal against Hull City at 16:07, time is now of the essence.

“I was at the FA Cup quar­ter­fi­nal against Charl­ton at Bra­mall Lane when they ac­tu­ally hon­oured me on the pitch for the chal­lenge,” Char­lie said.

“Then they an­nounced the semi­fi­nal was on the Sun­day and I was like, ‘NO! That’s the Lon­don Marathon, what am I go­ing to do?’

“Then when they an­nounced the kick-off I thought, ‘No prob­lem!’ Now Sun­day is a mas­sive day for me.

“I just wanted to en­joy Lon­don, soak up the amaz­ing at­mos­phere and help other people. I’ve learnt a lot and made a few mis­takes in en­durance run­ning, so if I can help mo­ti­vate people run­ning round while en­joy­ing Lon­don then great. But now I’ve got to make sure I come in around four hours so I can get to Wem­b­ley in time!”

The 31-year-old is hop­ing for some bet­ter mem­o­ries un­der the arch.

“It’s un­ex­pected but I think we can beat Hull if we turn up and play like we did against Charl­ton,” she said.“If we play like we did against Wolves re­cently and let them in­tim­i­date us then we won’t.

“But I’m so con­fi­dent I’m al­most go­ing, ‘I don’t know whether I’d pre­fer Ar­se­nal or Wi­gan,’ as if we’ve al­ready got through!

“Ev­ery time I’ve been to Wem­b­ley we’ve lost in the play-offs and it has ended in tears. I’m hop­ing we won’t get the Wem­b­ley jit­ters this time.”

Char­lie has raised al­most £60,000 for Women’s Aid as part of her aim of chang­ing at­ti­tudes to­wards do­mes­tic abuse.

Re­cently she waived her right to anonymity to re­veal she was sex­u­ally abused as a teenager by her run­ning coach, who was later jailed for ten years.

“I wanted the clubs to un­der­stand what I was do­ing and the fact the is­sue of abuse in any form, whether it’s a woman or a man or a child, is some­thing men can talk about too,” she said.

“I wanted men and young boys un­der­stand­ing what it is be­cause that’s the only way it’s go­ing to be talked about rather than tak­ing a fem­i­nist ap­proach and get­ting only women to talk about it all the time.

“It’s not a women’s is­sue or a man’s is­sue. It’s a so­cial is­sue but we hide it.The money is go­ing to go to a great cause but the aware­ness is the main thing be­cause that is go­ing to change at­ti­tudes.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

WEM­B­LEY WAY: Chris Porter cel­e­brates scor­ing Sh­effield United’s sec­ond goal against For­est in the quar­ter-fi­nal

SKY’S THE LIMIT: Char­lie Web­ster gets ready for Lon­don Marathon

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