Brentford fans will set out on the road to Wembley on Sunday 22 July with Prostate Cancer UK unveiling an even bigger and better March for Men walking programme as they make further strides to stop prostate cancer being a killer. After a successful launch of the charity’s flagship walking campaign last year raised more than £1 million, there is even more reason for people to put their best foot forward and combat the most common cancer in men.
For the first time, the number of men dying from prostate cancer every year has overtaken the number of women dying from breast cancer, making prostate cancer the third biggest cancer killer in the UK. Stepping up to the challenge, the leading men’s health charity will be recruiting an army of walkers representing Brentford and clubs from the Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and Non-League in London and the South East in four mega marathon marches.
The Football March for Men will see legions of walkers setting off on the road to Wembley, starting out from Millwall, West Ham United, St Albans City and Sutton United, and heading to the home of English football. The march to the arch will take in 15 clubs and create a fabulous finale. The event has been backed by Bees boss Dean Smith while long-standing Griffin Park matchday announcer and Player Welfare Manager Peter Gilham, touched by the support of fellow fans after his prostate cancer diagnosis last year, has urged supporters to get involved.
Dean, who represented Bees in the 2016 March for Men by walking from Griffin Park to the home of English football, said: “Walking to Wembley with Jeff Stelling and an army of football fans was an inspiring and humbling experience two years ago, and I, along with everyone at Brentford FC, am proud to once again support this amazing cause this summer. Prostate cancer is something that has affected several people I know and the new stats that one man dies every 45 minutes from the disease makes it even more vital that we put our best foot forward and make a stand. I’m proud to wear my Man of Men pin badge to raise awareness of this issue.
"Our unflappable matchday announcer and Player Welfare Manager Peter Gilham, a huge part of the Brentford family for many years, continues to fight against this disease and we stand alongside him on this journey. The support he’s had from our brilliant fans – and the football family - has been incredible and when this disease affects one of your own, it does put it in full perspective. That’s why I want to see as many Bees fans as possible on the road to Wembley.
“My friend Errol McKellar has successfully beaten this disease and I know he will galvanise the Leyton Orient fanbase. It’s going to be brilliant to see so many clubs represented on this epic march to the home of football. Rivals on the pitch, we will all be united off it as we fight back against this deadly opponent and make prostate cancer a disease not feared in the future.”
Peter Gilham added: “When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I can’t tell you how humbled I was by the amount of support I received. The moment I announced my diagnosis, it just took off. I had messages from fans, players past and present, managers from around the country and from people who’ve also been affected by prostate cancer. It was just amazing and to see a massive flag unveiled in support was immense.
“The Club has been brilliant and its great to see them getting behind Prostate Cancer UK’s Football March for Men. The charity is asking fans to put their rivalries aside, and I couldn’t agree more. It doesn’t matter whether you wear red and white, blue and white, or black and white, but it’s what’s in your heart, and the reason you’re there is the important thing. I’d say to anyone thinking of taking part in one of these marathon marches, or indeed cycling or making a giant flag, whatever it is, keep doing what you’re doing; it’s so important.”
National League high-flyers Sutton United kick-off the South West London leg, which sees visits to AFC Wimbledon and Griffin Park, while there are three other starting points, including one at Clarence Park, home of National League South, St Albans City. Walkers will head to Watford and Barnet before the final stretch to HA9. The South London starting point is The Den, home to Championship side Millwall, who earned national acclaim when they put the Prostate Cancer UK logo on their first team strip in 2013/14. The route also visits Crystal Palace, Fulham, current Premier League champions Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers before the finale.
London Stadium, home to the Premier League Hammers, will be the backdrop to the East London leg of the march, the route also visiting National League Leyton Orient before popping in on North London neighbours Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. Indeed, Spurs fans will get a glimpse of the new-look White Hart Lane before the day ends at their current borrowed base, Wembley. The Football March for Men will see hundreds of football fans take on the baton from Jeff Stelling after the Sky Sports presenter, flanked by a cast of celebrities and civilians, walked more than 650 miles across 25 marathons the length and breadth of the country in the last two years, raising £800,000. After his tireless efforts, the 62-year-old is taking a breather in 2018, but has challenged fans across the capital and the South East to get involved in one of the Football March for Men events.
Legendary former England and Tottenham Hotspur keeper and Prostate Cancer UK ambassador Ray Clemence has also backed the event, and will meet the walkers at Wembley, a place he knows very well.
Clemence, who has himself been affected by prostate cancer, said: “Wembley will always be a special place for me. I’ve been lucky enough to play at the home of football domestically on several occasions, had the privilege of captaining my country there against Brazil and have also coached from the sidelines. So, it represents a fitting finale for Prostate Cancer UK’s Football March for Men, as fans across London and the South East converge on the home of football to raise money and awareness.
“Among the clubs on the march are Tottenham Hotspur, a club very close to my heart, and it’s great to see them supporting the cause. I’ve also got some good memories of my time at Barnet, but I always had a warm welcome across the capital and its terrific to see 15 clubs putting their rivalries aside to walk side by side. Its shaping up to be a brilliant event and one that will really help raise awareness and shape change.”
Prostate Cancer UK’s march to the arch in 2018 provides a fitting climax to an exciting climax of walking events as the charity extends its footprint across the UK. On Father’s Day weekend, last year, the inaugural March for Men events saw over 1,600 walkers take to the parks of London, Leeds and Glasgow raising more than a quarter of a million pounds. Now, across seven cities throughout the UK in June, families, friends and loved ones will be pulling on their walking boots and converging on picturesque parklands up and down the country – with a London event in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Saturday, June 16.
Starting with a North West double header in Manchester and Liverpool on Sunday, June 10, the countrywide quest to fight back against a disease that kills one man every 45 minutes continues across Father’s Day weekend (16-17 June), with London, Bristol and Glasgow hosting the family-friendly walks. The marches continue in Leeds on June 23 before concluding a week later in Nottingham, on Saturday, 30 June.
Prostate Cancer UK’s Chief Executive, Angela Culhane, walked more than 130 miles with Stelling during the legendary jaunts from Hartlepool United to Wembley and Exeter City to Newcastle United. She said: “I’m thrilled that our walking programme continues to gather momentum, and look forward to beating the drum even louder across the UK this year as we mobilise legions of our supporters. One man dies every 45 minutes from prostate cancer, and we now know this disease is the third biggest cancer killer. That’s unacceptable. We need to turn that around and the wonderful efforts of Jeff and everyone who has walked for us previously have laid the foundations.
“Thanks to the money raised we can fund more ground-breaking research, and 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. We’ve got a way to go but these walks are the perfect way to take a step in the right direction.”
The substantial sums raised by fundraising will help ‘shift the science’ and crack the three core issues of diagnosis, treatment and prevention, which have been left unsolved for too long. It will also help provide support and information to those affected by the disease. Many people are unaware that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. One man will die from prostate cancer every 45 minutes in the UK. That’s over 11,800 men a year. Based on current trends, if we ignore prostate cancer and do nothing, this number will rise to over 14,500 men a year by 2026.
To sign up to a March for Men or find out more information go to: www.prostatecanceruk.org/footballmarch.