Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling to take on bigger and better walking challenge for men’s health charity with the support of Darlington FC.
Intrepid television presenter Jeff Stelling will lace up his walking boots once more in another unbelievable walking challenge for Prostate Cancer UK, with the 14th day of this year’s event kicking off in Darlington.
Teaming up with the leading men’s health organisation, the long-standing Soccer Saturday host is aiming to raise £500,000 on his March for Men, 15 walking marathons in 15 days at the start of June, from Exeter City FC to Newcastle United FC.
Last year Stelling and close friend – and former Hartlepool Chief Executive – Russ Green walked 10 marathons in 10 days from Victoria Park, home of the League Two club to Wembley, a place Pools have never been. Along the way he was joined by famous friends and colleagues and people affected by prostate cancer and he raised more than £420,000.
His epic amble down the country was the subject of an emotional Sky documentary, Stelling’s March to the Arch, and, inspired by 10 unforgettable days, the 61-year-old revealed an even bigger challenge to the audience of Soccer Saturday at the weekend.
Starting in Devon on Friday 2 June, Jeff’s March for Men – prostatecanceruk.org/jeffsmarch – will see the Sky stalwart walk 400 miles from the South West to the North East with the symmetrical stroll starting at St James Park, home of the Grecians, and ending at the Magpies’ St James’ Park a fortnight later.
Clocking in at 400 miles, Jeff’s journey will see him visit more than 40 football clubs, heading up the west of England via Bristol and Stoke and through the northern footballing hotbeds of Merseyside and Manchester, before cutting across the country and ending at the home of Championship high flyers Newcastle. Of course, his boyhood club, Hartlepool United will be en route and he will also start the final day at Durham County Cricket Club.
Day 14, on Thursday 15 June is the penultimate day of the 15 day challenge, starting at Darlington. Although it will cover 27 miles in total, the lack of hills and lighter terrain will make it slightly easier than the distance suggests, visiting Middlesbrough along the way. Day 14 sums up exactly what this event is all about, as the route will be connecting the fans of two renowned rivals, in the shared common cause of fighting prostate cancer, ending the day at Stelling’s beloved Hartlepool United FC.
“On day 14, we’ll start out at Darlington” said Jeff. “There’s no doubt about it, there’s a huge rivalry between Darlington and my club Hartlepool United. Huge.
“But when Darlington have been on their knees, we’ve helped fundraise for them and been very happy to. At one stage Hartlepool gave Darlington a lawnmower so they could cut the pitch.
“So, although there’s a rivalry, there’s an understanding between the fans as well. When Darlington went down to step 5 of the non league pyramid through no fault of the fans or the players, it was there but for the grace of God from a Hartlepool fans’ perspective. We all look at those clubs and know it could easily be ours. But you’re always encouraged by the way those clubs fight back. Look at Darlo now, they’re not all that far away from the Football League. Renewing that rivalry would be fantastic. We’d love to have that local derby back. Having said that, when I’m in Darlington I’ll be wearing my tin hat!”
The mega event is part of Prostate Cancer UK’s wider walking programme, March for Men, which includes a trio of Local Walks across Father’s Day weekend, in London on June 17th and Leeds and Glasgow 24 hours later. The charity will also be encouraging supporters to hold their own marches to try and raise £1 million through walking in 2017
79 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Darlington and the money raised will have a huge impact on the lives of those affected by the disease and will help bring us one step closer to stopping prostate cancer being a killer
Stelling said: “After the agony and ecstasy of the walk last year, particularly the agony, so many people have been in touch with stories of their battle against prostate cancer, so many people who wanted to say thank you to me, to Russ Green, and to Prostate Cancer UK for their support.
“It makes me feel very humble but it also makes me feel very gratified that I’m in position where I can do something. Prostate Cancer kills one man ever hour in the UK, and I just decided I couldn’t sit on my backside and do nothing about it. I can put one foot in front of the next and hopefully raise awareness and raise funds to help men beat this diabolical disease.
“We also wanted a fresh route and because they shared the same ground name, we thought we would see how far it was between Exeter and Newcastle, and it’s worked out well. Crucially, it gives us that opportunity to go to parts of the country that we’ve not been to before to get our message over to people who maybe didn’t hear that message as loudly last time round. So that will be in the West Country, starting down in Exeter we’ll be heading north relentlessly and ending in St James’ Park one of the great football grounds, where I know we will get a fantastic welcome from all Geordies.”
Prostate Cancer UK is the Official Charity Partner of The English Football League (EFL) and 22 clubs will be represented along the route, through the heartlands of England.
Stelling will also stop off at eight Premier League clubs as well as 11 Non-League sides with the final day on Friday 16 June kicking off at the Emirates Riverside, home of Durham County Cricket club.
Prostate Cancer UK Chief Executive Angela Culhane, who walked the final marathon, and more than 50 miles during last year’s walk, said: “After his heroic efforts last year, I’m proud and delighted to welcome back Jeff Stelling for his second March for Men for Prostate Cancer UK.
“His road to Wembley last year was long and winding, and a massive challenge both physically and mentally, but it was a truly ‘unbelievable’ achievement which raised a huge amount of awareness not to mention vital funds in the fight against this deadly disease.
“So many people approached Jeff on the walk to speak about their own courageous battles with prostate cancer, and the fact that they were able to stroll side by side with household names from sport, show business and politics established this as a charity walk like no other.
“This time we will be visiting different areas of the country and some legendary football clubs as Jeff continues to spread the word – and of course he will be bringing some big names along. We look forward to meeting more inspirational people along the way.
“Ignoring prostate cancer will not beat it. But Jeff’s epic efforts have helped wake men up to the need to take action. Thanks to the more than £420,000 raised to date, we can fund more ground-breaking research to fight back against the disease. It will also help us provide dedicated support and information to men and their families and make prostate cancer a disease the next generation of men need not fear.”
To support Jeff, and find out more about his challenge, visit prostatecanceruk.org/jeffsmarch