Inside Matters | Our super cyclist Mark Crowther's conversation on mental health

On the weekend that the Premier League and its clubs join forces to ‘Kick off a conversation on mental health’ for the Inside Matters campaign, our super cycling supporter Mark Crowther sets off on the final leg of his Pride in Luton Premier Pedal Challenge.


Compared to Burnley away on a Friday night at four days' notice, the relatively short and straightforward distance of 44 miles to West Ham sees Mark clock up 8,000 miles over the three years he has been raising awareness and funds for several local charities, including Mind BLMK and our club charity of the year, NOAH Enterprise.

The London Stadium will be the 162nd ground he has cycled to in his support of Luton Town since first being inspired by a doorstep visit from then-Hatters strikers Harry Cornick and James Collins as he struggled with his own mental health during the pandemic.

If you feel able to donate to Mark's Pride in Luton Premier Pedal Challenge, you can do so here.

Invited to the training ground recently to discuss his journey with club doctor Amos Ogunkoya, which you can also watch below, Mark reflected on three years in which he cycled to every away game in the Championship in the 2021/22 season before doing the same in the top-flight this term.

Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19th May), Mark talked about how for much of his four decades supporting the Hatters, he would come to the game, not speak to anyone then go home.

For half of those 43 years, Mark has struggled with mental health issues since losing his mother and found that for him, speaking to a counsellor helped, while pointing out that for others it could be a family member or friend.

During Lockdown, however, cut off from friends and family and without football to attend, he found himself in what he describes as “a dark place”, having “irrational thoughts” as he contemplated taking his own life.

Inspired by Collins scoring the winning goal in the behind-closed-doors derby against Watford in April 2021, and keeping a promise he made to Cornick as he presented him with a signed shirt, Mark took on the first of his cycling challenges that has seen him raise over £36,000 for his chosen charities – and shortlisted for EFL supporter of the season in 2021/22.

“West Ham is going to be emotional because it’s been three years and when I started it was about raising awareness and raising money,” said Mark. “Some of the things I didn’t recognise at the start of it, like the friendships I’ve made and the journey I’ve been on.

“Before I did this, I wouldn’t dream to chat with a player. I put them on a pedestal, professional footballers playing for the team I love, but they are all so humble and genuinely nice, normal guys. Just the fact that I feel comfortable chatting to them – it means the world to me because this football club is a big part of my life.”

It was Mark’s favourite player, midfielder Jordan Clark who persuaded him to get back in the saddle for the current season, in which he has already surpassed his £5,000 target. Of course, any further donations around this weekend’s fixture are more than welcome.

“I fund all the challenges myself because I want people to donate to the charities,” added Mark. “I know it’s the right time mentally, emotionally and financially, the commitment I’ve made the last three years, I just feel it’s the time to step back.

“I feel like it’s not a destination, it’s sometimes not even a journey. It’s about the emotion, and how you feel on that journey, and I’ll probably have some difficult moments in the future.

“But I just take from it what’s been achieved, and I think if I’ve managed to make a small difference to people’s lives, whether it be for the charities or people, even if I’ve just helped one person, it makes it worthwhile.”

From everyone at the Club, you really have made a difference Mark...well done and rest up!

For more details on the Premier League’s Inside Matters campaign, click HERE.

On Thursday the Hatters helped the Premier League kick off the campaign with Dr Amos conducting a conversation on mental health during an early morning interview with BBC Three Counties Radio, which you can listen to again by clicking HERE

After training, goalkeeper James Shea spent an hour talking to the sixth form students at Queen Elizabeth school in Luton, together with the Luton Town Community Trust and local charity CHUMS, who provide mental health and emotional wellbeing support to children/young people and their families across Bedfordshire.

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