Our March for Men will not be any jolly

The Football League Paper - - JEFF STELLING - Jeff Stelling

TEN marathons in ten days – it seemed a good idea at the time. On Mon­day, March 21, I’ll be set­ting off from my club Hartle­pool United and walk­ing more than 250 miles to Wem­b­ley Sta­dium. Prostate Can­cer UK of­fered me a cou­ple of glam­orous al­ter­na­tives: walk­ing the Great Wall of China or tak­ing on the Inca Trail.

I thought, ‘Ah no, it sounds like a jolly.You need some­thing that looks like it is tough’. I prob­a­bly didn’t re­alise just quite how tough it would be.

I’ve run eight marathons all told. The other day I went for a long walk and I did about 13 miles in four hours. Nor­mally, af­ter four hours of a marathon, I’d have fin­ished or very nearly. Now, I’m only half­way through!

But I’m rea­son­ably fit and I’m hop­ing the com­pany I will have along the way from var­i­ous ex­play­ers, cur­rent man­agers and fans will help the time pass.

My good friend Russ Green, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hartle­pool United, is walk­ing the whole way with me.

The Soc­cer Satur­day boys are all join­ing in at var­i­ous stages.

Paul Mer­son is do­ing a cou­ple of legs, Char­lie Ni­cholas is do­ing one and Matt Mur­ray and Matt Le Tissier will be out on the pave­ments, too.

He has just come back from a two-week cruise in the Caribbean – the most walk­ing he did there was from buf­fet to buf­fet. So, we shall see how ready they are.

Ray Wilkins is do­ing the first two legs with us, while Nigel Ad­kins, Dean Smith and Bianca West­wood are all get­ting in­volved as well.

It’s a cliché but the foot­ball fam­ily have re­ally pulled to­gether and all 31 clubs we’re vis­it­ing along the way have been so sup­port­ive. As have spon­sors Carls­berg.

Re­ally, I’m in a very priv­i­leged po­si­tion to be do­ing some­thing like this. It wasn’t un­til I started talk­ing to Prostate Can­cer UK that I re­alised what a big killer the dis­ease is.

One in eight men will get it and one per­son dies from it ev­ery hour. In a way, it’s a silent killer. Men are re­luc­tant to go to the doc­tor as it is. If it’s any­thing below the waist, for­get about it.

But, if you go to a Foot­ball League ground now and look at the fans be­hind a goal, there might be 2,000 peo­ple stood there. Work out how many will get prostate can­cer in their life­time – it’s a scary thought.

Peo­ple think about it as just a men’s dis­ease but of course it’s not. It af­fects mums, wives and daugh­ters as well.

Ini­tially this chal­lenge was to raise aware­ness, but it seems to have caught the imag­i­na­tion and we’re rapidly head­ing to­wards £100,000 in spon­sor­ship. So it’s a dou­ble whammy hope­fully. Raise aware­ness as well as a tidy amount of money. The char­ity have just launched a cam­paign called Ten Years to Tame Prostate Can­cer. They’re try­ing to put them­selves out of a job. I’m just con­cen­trat­ing on mine for now.

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