Ferdinand saddles up for Prostate Cancer UK’s Football to Amsterdam ride
Former England striker Les Ferdinand will join the biggest ride in football next year, as Prostate Cancer UK’s million-pound cycling event gathers pace.
The Queens Park Rangers legend, who scored with regularity in a career that also took him to Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and West Ham United, will join Preston North End manager Simon Grayson and ex-England skipper Terry Butcher in the fifth annual Football to Amsterdam ride - prostatecanceruk.org/amsterdam - in conjunction with the EFL from 9-11 June.
49-year-old Ferdinand, now Director of Football at Loftus Road after a glittering playing career in West London, lost his grandfather to prostate cancer. While for a second time, Grayson will ride in honour of his late friend Steve ‘Garby’ Garbett, who passed away from the disease in September 2014.
The duo will start at opposite ends of the country: Ferdinand pedalling to Amsterdam from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Lee Valley VeloPark, London; and Grayson joining the northern leg, which kicks off at Oakwell, home of Barnsley FC.
Starting out as a charity challenge with 35 riders in 2013, the Football to Amsterdam bike ride from Prostate Cancer UK and the EFL reached an incredible £1million cumulative fundraising landmark in June, as 350 riders rode 145 miles to stop prostate cancer being a killer.
Ferdinand said: “Football to Amsterdam has been an amazing success over the past four years and I’m really looking forward to saddling up for the first time to raise money for a charity close to my heart, Prostate Cancer UK.
“Prostate cancer affects 330,000 people in the UK, a staggering statistic. Think of a packed out Loftus Road and then imagine that almost 18 times over; those are the figures we are dealing with.
“One in eight men in the UK will be affected by this disease in their lifetime. But as a black man, my risk is even greater. One in four will be affected, and if there is a history of the disease in the family – like mine – those odds are even shorter.
“I’ll admit, prostate cancer wasn’t on my radar a decade ago; I knew nothing about it at all. Now I do. I lost my grandfather to prostate cancer and it’s also affected other members of my family too. I’ll be 50 in December, and need to set an example to my family and my peers, so I go and see my doctor every year without fail.”
Grayson added: “I am delighted to support Prostate Cancer UK, a charity which is very close to my heart, and I’m looking forward to joining the ride for a second time in honour of my late friend Steve Garbett.
“’Garby’ was a really close pal, who followed my career as a player and latterly as a manager and was always there to offer me support and advice. He was there for the good and the bad before sadly passing away two years ago.
“His brave ten-year fight opened my eyes about the dangers of this disease, and I’m proud to wear my Prostate Cancer UK ‘Man of Men’ pin badge on the touchline every game to raise awareness. That man represents you, me and everyone affected by this disease.
“I was honoured to ride from London to Amsterdam with Steve’s son, Dave, two years ago and we’ll be putting out another strong team as we start from Oakwell this time round, aiming to take our fundraising up beyond £100,000.”
James Beeby, Director of Fundraising at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Les Ferdinand is an iconic figure in British football and a legendary part of Queens Park Rangers history. So it’s fitting he will be leading his club into Europe amid a record-breaking peloton that also includes former England skipper Terry Butcher and Preston North End boss Simon Grayson.
“Away from the game, Les has also been a big supporter of ours for many years having seen this disease affect his family and friends, while Terry and Simon have also seen it affect loved ones. They know that ignoring prostate cancer will not beat it, and the money raised by everyone taking part in this ride will fund ground-breaking research to help fight the disease. That will help us provide dedicated support and information to men and their families affected by this disease.
“We are proud to be Official Charity Partner of the EFL, and clubs from across the football family have consistently shown a brilliant demonstration of what we call Men United: people joining one team to fight a common opposition – prostate cancer.
“One man every hour dies from prostate cancer; it’s the most common cancer in men. But we want to make prostate cancer a disease that the next generation of men do not fear. We thank Les, Simon, Terry and all the riders for joining the fight.”
Ben Wright, Commercial Director of the EFL, said: “We are proud of our long term charity partnership with Prostate Cancer UK and, fresh from breaking through the £1million fundraising barrier this year, we can’t wait to saddle up for the 2017 edition of Football to Amsterdam.
“Universally known as the biggest ride in football, this end-of-season fundraiser has grown from strength to strength since 2013 with staff, supporters and former players joining the fight against a disease that affects so many men and their loved ones. It’s also great to see Les Ferdinand and Simon Grayson, two big names in the EFL, and more importantly two men who have seen first-hand the effects of prostate cancer, taking on the challenge.
“The EFL football family will always be Men United, and our continued work with Prostate Cancer UK again proves that the beautiful game can make a massive difference.”
Many people are unaware that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. It’s a huge issue that cannot be ignored. In 2016, one man an hour will die from prostate cancer in the UK. That’s more than 11,000 men this 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.
People are urged to search Men United and join the fight.
For information about taking part in the 2017 ride go to prostatecanceruk.org/amsterdam or contact the cycling team by calling 020 3310 7034 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.