A team of cyclists from Bradford City FC will pay tribute to a long-serving Bantams fan during a charity ride from London to Amsterdam to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK starting today.
The bikes used by the four riders will bear special stickers honouring ardent City follower Arnold Thompson, who died of prostate cancer last month, aged 91.
Bradford’s cyclists – former player Louis Horne, one-time associate director Billy Bingham, and current club staff, Steven Hawthorn-Emmett and Luke Gallagher, will join representatives from more than 50 Football League clubs in the 170-mile ride, with the aim of raising £150,000 for the charity.
Mr Thompson is thought to have been one of the club’s most loyal fans, having had a season ticket at Valley Parade for 79 years, and directors and staff from the club attended his funeral at Rawdon Crematorium earlier this week.
His son Craig Thompson, 58, who lives in Otley, shares his late father’s passion for the Bantams, having been a fan himself for 50 years.
“If my dad was looking down at what’s happening, he’d be gobsmacked at what people are saying and doing,” he said.
“To see the cyclists doing this with his name on their bikes, he’d be really chuffed, over the moon.
“The club have gone over and above with what they’ve done, and this is another fantastic tribute.”
More than 150 riders, led by ex-England star Luther Blissett, are due to set off from Leyton Orient FC in East London this morning, with the aim of arriving at Ajax FC in the Dutch capital tomorrow.
Mr Hawthorn-Emmett, Bradford City FC’s head of marketing, said the four team members were determined to reach their £5,000 fundraising target, having collected just over £4,000 so far.
“We’re all a little bit apprehensive, but we’re definitely looking forward to it,” he said. “And it’s a fitting tribute to Mr Thompson, who was an extraordinary fan.
“We are honoured to be carrying his name, and if we’re struggling at any point, we can just look down at the stickers and remind ourselves why we’re taking on this challenge.”
Prostate cancer is the most common form of the disease for men in the UK, with 40,000 diagnosed every year.
Supporters can donate to the Bradford City team by visiting justgiving.com/prostatecanceruk.