We get more reflections from the Chief Executive following the completion of Day Four of his Men United March.
Hello and welcome to my latest Blog here on the Official Website as I update you on the progress we made on Thursday.
I have to admit, I’m a bit sore and a bit tired but we had a good massage last night and nice meal so that’s made us all feel better.
Thursday was a little bit easier to be honest. We knew it was going to be a hard day because we were going through the Pennines so it was the hilliest part of the walk but we managed to enjoy it and got through it well.
We all keep saying that the last day will be more of a celebration day so that leaves us with just the nine hard walking days and, by the end of Friday (Day 5) we’ll be almost half-way there. Jeff is struggling on a morning and is better on an afternoon and I am the opposite. So I have been helping him to get started on a morning as we start the walk and he is keeping me going as we near the end. We’re just keeping each other going as much as we can.
By lunchtime on Friday we will have covered half of the total distance of the walk so by the end of Friday, it will all be downhill from there. When I say downhill, it’s still going to be 26-28 miles every day!
The mental factor is so tough, we have been through every emotion possible but the support we have had today has been mad.
We started out at Rotherham on Thursday morning at 8am and we had a great reception from the people there. We then made our way to Hillsborough, which was about eight miles. When we arrived at Hillsborough, there were three Poolies waiting to meet us with a Hartlepool flag, which was brilliant.
The England band were also there to welcome us and they followed us through Sheffield. It was another great reception at Hillsborough and, while we were there the Chief Executive of Prostate Cancer UK who was walking with us, announced that we had broken the £200,000 mark for funds raised. That was another great moment for us all, and another emotional one.
We walked through Sheffield centre which was good as we had loads of people coming up to us and giving money to the charity. Having older men come up to you and put money in your hand and they touch your hand after they’ve done it as a sign of support is just so touching. It really has been unbelievable. These small personal donations do so much to lift spirits as we’re walking.
We then made our way across to Sheffield United, which was amazing again. We had a massive welcome there with about 200 people waiting to applaud us in. We’d had Sheffield MP Clive Betts walking with us and then at Bramall Lane we were met by David Blunkett and Nick Clegg. It’s really been amazing the amount of people who are coming out to meet us and offer us support.
We were joined by a few ex Poolies on Thursday as well; Bob Newton walked with us, Chris Turner – who admitted how tough he found it - and then Ritchie Humphreys all came to join us for part of the day and it was good to see him too. Bob was complimentary after the walk as he could see what we’d been through. He’s a pretty fit guy but he felt it today as well. There were a couple of guys walking today as well who compete in a few marathons each year and they said actually walking that distance was really tough.
We stopped to have a bit of lunch at Sheffield United but to be honest it is the stopping I am finding most difficult. In a morning I am in pain and struggle to get started but once we do get walking, I try to set a pace of around 3.5mph and keep that going. But when we stop, you can start to seize up again and so you can’t really sit down and rest, you have to keep walking around as much as you can.
There was another nice moment as we walked up two big hills between Dronfield and Chesterfield; as we got to the top of one of the hills, there were two young boys there both holding a H’Angus. It’s been surprising to see how many people have mentioned Hartlepool along the way. This walk has really lifted the profile of the Club and I think a few more people have taken Pools to their hearts this week.
It took us nine and a half hours to make it to Chesterfield and, even though they were hosting an England match last night, they still put another great reception on for us.
The last 3 or 4 miles were so hard, you just want to get there but I was joined by a girl from Rotherham who had lost her husband a few years previously to prostate cancer. She was a lovely woman and we had lots in common and to see how she has coped and the way she has embraced things, out bucket collecting and raising money for the charity regularly is amazing. It breaks your heart but its stories like this that keep you going.
This is one of those things that you know, if you can get through this, you can get through anything. It’s been tough but we’re going to get through it. We’ll never do anything like this again – Jeff’s suggested a sponsored sleep for next year!
It’s probably about one hundred times harder than we thought it was going to be and it’s the mental side of it, it’s been so emotional at times.
I have got the FLi Player App on my phone now so we’re going to listen in to the game against AFC Wimbledon on Pools Player. It’s going to a weird day for me as I don’t think I’ve missed a home game since Newport County in February 2014 when I was in hospital. So it will be odd for me not to be there.
I’ve got a selection of Pools shirts with me so I’ll have another different one on for Friday’s walk. And to listen in as the lads get three points would be a real boost to get us through another difficult day.
Come on Pools.