Jeff Stelling gearing up for first leg of mammoth Prostate Cancer UK challenge starting at Newcastle United's St James's Park and ending at Sunderland's Stadium of Light
“It will be quite special.”
Hartlepool-born Jeff Stelling is gearing up for his latest mammoth charity walking challenge.
400 football fans. Four days. Four marathons. One cause.
From Bank Holiday Monday, Sky Sports star Stelling will be marching across the country for Prostate Cancer UK for a fourth time, inspired by the loss of a close friend and a football hero to the disease.
The long-serving Sky Sports presenter has raised more than £1million for the leading men’s health charity, walking across the UK in 2016, 2017 and 2019 – and returns next week to support Prostate Cancer UK in their quest to help stop prostate cancer being a killer.
This year he will be taking on four walking marathons in four regions, starting on August 30th with a route from Newcastle United, where he finished his 2017 March, to rivals Sunderland. He will also take in Durham Cricket Club en route.
The walk then heads to Yorkshire on the 31st, before marching through Merseyside on September 1st. His March for Men finishes up in London on September 4th, by which time he would have walked 100 miles in a week.
The aim is to help raise funds for lifesaving research.
Two of the motivations for Stelling are Yorkshireman and huge Sunderland supporter Lloyd Pinder and former Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and England goalkeeper Ray Clemence, father of current Newcastle coach Stephen. Both men died last year.
Stelling told the Mail: “The motivation initially was that charities have had a terrible time with Covid, a lot of big events have been scrapped and I was keen to do something.
"The idea was initially hatched last year when my mate Lloyd Pinder, a Sunderland fan, died from prostate cancer at the age of 48.
“I went to his funeral, the entire village had turned out where he lived to send him off, it was incredibly moving.
“I was sitting with a couple of people from Prostate Cancer UK and said we needed to do something to commemorate his life and then Ray Clemence as well.
“They are the double motivations, for the charity, but also something in their memory as well.”
Stelling added: “Lloyd became a good friend, I felt while I could still do it I had a responsibility to try and do something.
“I met him on the first walk, day two of the first walk. We walked together for an hour, talked about his family and Sunderland and somebody later came over and said ‘what an amazing story’.
“He hadn’t mentioned he had prostate cancer, I had to go back and say to him!
"He was a classically good bloke.”
Stelling’s walks have already helped raise more than a £1million in recent years for the charity.
Stelling said: “The first thing I said was I know the charities will be interested in the financial side of things but the primary concern also has to be around raising awareness and getting publicity and getting it out there.
“The number of people who called it prostrate cancer, that told you everything, people didn’t know its name, never mind what it could do to you and the importance of catching it early.
“The money raised is a great advantage but to be honest I am just a cheerleader, I put my face to it but the people who raise the money are the ones who walk with me. It is a huge team effort.
“It will be quite special and you meet some great people on the walk.
“There isn’t much joy in the last 10 miles or so but the first chunk is brilliant and you meet so many different people, new faces, old friends.
“To say it is a good day out is an exaggeration but every day is a great occasion, come rain or shine and the sense of achievement at the end is something else.
“I remember a few years back when Robbie Fowler was talked into doing it at the last minute having not done any training, how he finished I will never know, blistered and exhausted, he went on the radio the next day and said it was the hardest thing he’d had to do in his life.
“It is a tough challenge but the sense of satisfaction at the end is something else.”
For more details – and to sponsor – head to prostatecanceruk.org/jeffsmarch