An England fan is walking all the way from Oldham to Wembley for England’s game against Germany in honour of his late friend.
Lee McAllister insists the 210-mile walk is the maddest thing he has done in his bid to raise both money and awareness for the Ricky Casey Trust, which was set up after his friend died of RMC, a rare form of cancer aged 48.
Management consultant Lee, 47, played with Ricky at their local football club Springhead. And it is from that club where, on Sunday, Lee and his friend, postman Glyn Billington, embarked on the first leg of their nine-day trek to the capital.
Lee said: “Ricky was a close friend of mine, I played football with him for a number of years. He developed RMC four and half years ago now. He was a firefighter at the time. We did a couple of fundraising events for him at the time when he was ill to try and get some drugs.
“He was just such a popular guy in the local community and everyone got behind them. We raised enough money for a drug trial for him, but unfortunately, before he could, he passed away. His wife then set up the charity in his name. She asked me to get involved as a trustee, which I have done.”
On the walk, Lee added: “It was just a case of thinking outside of the box of how we can take this further, because RMC is such a rare cancer, so one of the big things is the awareness.
“We have ended up being the only UK charity for it and it was a case of how we can spread the word on a wider basis, outside of our local community. A mad thought in my head was that Ricky used to play for our local football club, so thought it would be great to do a walk from our local football club to Wembley and finish off on the day that England play Germany.”
RMC, short for renal medullary carcinoma, is a rare type of cancer linked to the sickle cell trait.
“A lot of people don’t know that they are carrying the sickle cell trait,” Lee said. “It is especially prominent in the black and afro-Caribbean community, so there is a big push for us to raise awareness.”
Rugby league legends Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Jones-Buchanan, who are supporters of the charity, are joining Lee and Glyn on the first few miles of their walk, which begins at 11am on Sunday.
The nine legs of the journey range from 18 to 31 miles long – and will finish on Wembley Way ahead of England’s final game before this summer’s World Cup.