Today marks a year since Cliftonville Football Club welcomed Jeff Stelling to Solitude as part of a special charity venture.
The Sky Sports presenter’s March For Men challenge in aid of Prostate Cancer UK brought him to Belfast on the second day of a four-city walking tour, which raised in excess of £373,000 and lifted his personal fundraising efforts through the £1m barrier since he began back in 2016.
“I may have been the figurehead for the event, but this was the ultimate team effort and everyone who played their part deserves special praise,” Stelling said at the time after being joined at Solitude by fellow broadcaster Colin Murray, former Northern Ireland international Iain Dowie and World Champion boxer Carl Frampton, whose choice of sporting attire certainly caught the eye of all Cliftonville fans present!
“They include the Clubs who went above and beyond, the support staff and my celebrity pals. Then there are those who have donated, from large corporate contributions to kids running up to me with their pocket money. And then the walkers, those amazing men and women who joined me along the way, each reaching their own personal Everests.
“It was such an emotional feeling to cross the line when Tottenham Hotspur kindly opened their amazing new stadium for the finale. But I was happy, too, and incredibly proud to walk side by side with so many inspirational people, men affected by what is the most common cancer in men, some with an uncertain future, some who have lost loved ones, some who remain beacons of hope. But all unified in the fight against prostate cancer and perfectly advocating our position – we are with men, and for men and their families both now and in the future.
“The money raised is making a huge difference, I’ve seen it myself in the research labs in Newcastle and can see in the press the latest incremental steps we are taking as one movement to solve the problem of prostate cancer.
“It sounds like a cliché, but the football community are one big family in the fight against prostate cancer, a disease that shockingly kills one man every 45 minutes.
“So I’m very proud of what everyone has achieved since we started this project back at the gates of my club, Hartlepool United, in 2016.
“To have raised £1m through my three March for Men events alongside 1253 walkers has been incredible. But the awareness we have generated of the disease, particularly to men and families at risk, on the streets and when the boys and I proudly wear our Man of Men pin badge on TV every Saturday is so important too.”