Hartlepool heroes Jeff Stelling and Russ Green have raised more than £300,000 from their mammoth charity walk, it has been revealed.
Teaming up with leading men’s health organisation Prostate Cancer UK, long-standing Soccer Saturday Jeff host set off on the tenth of 10 walking marathons in 10 days, strolling from AFC Wimbledon to Wembley.
Together with close friend – and Hartlepool chief executive Russ – the duo walked from Victoria Park, home of the League Two club en route south to Wembley Stadium , a place Pools have never been.
Clocking in at 262 miles, Jeff’s Men United March - menunitedmarch.org - saw the 61-year-old check in on 32 football clubs, and along the way he was joined by famous friends and colleagues and people affected by prostate cancer, while Carlsberg signed up as a supporting sponsor.
On Day 10 Jeff and Russ were joined by former footballers including Trevor Sinclair, Denis Wise, Chris Powell, Dean Smith, Matt Le Tissier, Gareth Ainsworth, Mark Bright and Les Ferdinand, amongst a throng of walkers.
The 42 km jaunt saw Jeff and friends leave AFC Wimbledon at 8am, stopping off at Brentford FC, Fulham FC, Chelsea FC and Queens Park Rangers FC, finishing at Wembley just after 6pm – and promptly heading to the fabled Royal Box for a trophy presentation.
After Jeff was presented with a giant Hartlepool shirt cake during the post-event reception, he told the walkers, many with personal experiences of prostate cancer: “Everyone was our inspiration to keep going. All your stories were humbling, uplifting and unforgettable. We will never forget them.”
“They say I can talk the talk; and now I’ve walked the walk, and it was great to be in London on the final day as my Men United March for Prostate Cancer UK came to an end.
“It was great to link up with friends old and new as myself and Russ, the most determined, gutsy and lovely bloke you could ever wish to meet, travelled our long walk south, all in aid of a fantastic cause.
“I deal in statistics – but the ones we are dealing with here are shocking. One man dies every hour from this disease, that’s six in the course of Soccer Saturday every week. One in eight men will get prostate cancer, and for black men the odds are even worse at one in four. Two Sky colleagues and good friends Eddie Hemmings and Bill Arthur have suffered from this disease.
“But there is reason for optimism. Within the next ten years Prostate Cancer UK believes they will find the answers to make this disease something men and their loved ones no longer fear. I’ve met the scientists who pledge to do this and I can see how dedicated they are. But to do this we need to raise vital funds. The walk may be finished but people can still support all the men affected by prostate cancer by visiting menunitedmarch.org and pledging their support.”
Prostate Cancer UK is the Official Charity Partner of The Football League and 25 clubs were represented along the route, through the heartlands of England.
Jeff also stopped off at five Premier League clubs as well as Non-League sides Tadcaster Albion and St Albans City before an emotional finale along Wembley Way on Wednesday.
Prostate Cancer UK Chief Executive Angela Culhane, who walked the final marathon, and more than 50 miles during the walk, said: "It's been a truly incredible 10 days capped with a phenomenal fundraising total of more than £300,000.
“Memories have been forged, friendships have developed all the way from Hartlepool to London - and the money and awareness raised will be life-altering to the men affected by prostate cancer and their loved ones.
“It's been mentally and physically exhausting for them, but Jeff and Russ have put their bodies on the line each and every day. Two mates getting together to do something great and help beat prostate cancer; that's a perfect example of what we call Men United.
“Each and every walker that put their best foot forward for the cause, more than 400 of them, provided inspiration to us all, and on behalf of everyone involved in the Men United March and every man affected by this disease, I’d like to say a big thank you.”
To support Jeff, and find out more about his challenge, visit menunitedmarch.org.