Pools Chief Executive has reached the closing stages of his Men United March for Prostate Cancer UK - but he has admitted that it's not getting any easier.
I was up early this morning. And by early, I mean 4am attempting to pace round my hotel room and get my body going because I could hardly walk and I was struggling to put a hand up in front of my face.
I was done. I was taking pills – I’ve had more ibuprofen this week than I’ve had in my entire life – and walking round my room trying to get moving but I just couldn’t see how I could do it again. I was finished.
However, the lads bundled me on to a minibus after breakfast and I limped up to Luton Town looking like Herman the Munster to be fair! But there was an absolutely massive crowd there and that gives you a massive boost and suddenly I had second thoughts about packing it all in.
I decided to set-off and see how it went for the first mile and once that was behind me I was setting the pace and I just kept going and going and going.
To be fair, there were plenty of famous faces and celebrities to keep the spirits up today. Paul Merson was back to join us for the second time and we also had Luther Blissett, Peter Taylor, Paul Walsh, Tony Cottee, Malky Mackay and Bianca Westwood on the road with us today.
We headed out of Luton towards St Albans and we faced quite a hilly route - I would say it was probably the most hilly section of the entire walk so that was a real challenge. It was a big stretch and extremely hard but the welcome we got when we reached St Albans was superb.
The best bit about that welcome was seeing Pools fan John Rooke along with his wife and son – so I made a beeline for them, seeing the Pools shirt on his son Leo and it was quite emotional to be honest. I had a chat with them and that helped keep my spirits going.
We set off on the afternoon stretch which was another quite long one from St Albans down to Waford but it was good, to be fair. Some people had dropped out by that stage but I was heartened when we walked through a park and a bloke came up and put some money in my hand for the charity. He was a Pools fan living in St Albans – honestly, they are all over and seeing them throughout this walk has really kept me going. It was a very emotional moment.
It was a long way to Watford, and we went through probably the worst storm since the Birmingham leg and we were absolutely drenched when we reached Vicarage Road. But there was still a massive crowd waiting to welcome us and we had done it, we had completed Day 9.
I was surrounded by Luton and Watford fans telling us how much they respected what we had done and how they would always be looking out for the Hartlepool result from now on – and that’s all tied to what Jeff and I have done over the last week and a half.
Malky Mackay came over at the end and gave me a big hug and told me that he had the biggest respect for what we have done. He admitted that he was completely shot and in bits and that was only one day – but that’s been the norm, we’ve had pro footballers telling us how hard doing just one day of this walk has been!
Max Rushden was another who was telling us about how he liked to keep himself fit as we set off from Luton but by the end he was done in and could hardly walk – and he was another to come over and tell us how much he respected what we were doing.
All through the walk we’ve split it down in to three day chunks and convinced ourselves the last day is just a celebration. Now it’s upon us and we have to cope with the fact we still have another 25 miles or so to cover. It’s not going to be easy.
It’s only one more day – but it’s another long walk. We’ve reached 235 miles now so we’re in the home strait but it’s still going to be a whole new challenge tomorrow but the fact we hit £250,000 in donations today will help keep us going. And that’s only on the Just Giving page so hopefully we can get close to £300,000 – which isn’t bad given we started out targeting £25,000!
It’s been so hard but really amazing and we have one more day to conquer. We’ll keep on going.
Thanks for all your support.