Charity champion Jeff Stelling’s intrepid walk for Prostate Cancer UK is the subject of a special documentary which premieres on Sky Sports 1 this week.Entitled ‘Stelling’s March to the Arch,’ the documentary will be aired on the channel at 22.30 on Wednesday 11th May 2016.
After teaming up with the leading men’s health organisation, the long-standing Soccer Saturday host completed 10 walking marathons in 10 days from 21-30 March 2016, strolling from Hartlepool United to Wembley and raising more than £365,000.
Now, Stelling and his supporting cast of more than 400 from the epic Men United March will be able to walk down memory lane when the first showing of ‘Stelling’s March to the Arch’ is aired on Sky Sports 1 on Wednesday 11th May 2016 at 22.30.
The hour-long programme, which immediately follows the live Premier League clash between Liverpool and Chelsea, showcases the popular presenter’s journey from his beloved Victoria Park, and captures the highs and lows during a life-changing week-and-a-half. Sky viewers can also watch via the On Demand, Sky Go and Catch-up services immediately following the first showing.
Produced by Johnny Phillips, viewers can watch Jeff – who was joined every step of the way by close friend and Hartlepool Chief Executive, Russ Green – navigate his way down the country facing many mental and physical challenges. From losing his bearings in Leeds on day two, to battling the elements and being intercepted by the Hartlepool team bus on Easter Sunday, not to mention some painful daily stints in the physio room – there was blood, sweat and tears.
Clocking in at 262 miles, Jeff’s Men United March – menunitedmarch.org – saw the 61-year-old check in on 32 football clubs, including newly-crowned Premier League champions Leicester City. Along the way Jeff was joined by famous friends and colleagues, and men affected by prostate cancer, while Carlsberg signed up as a supporting sponsor.
The phenomenal £365,000 raised through the March will help fund vital research projects such as Professor Johann De Bono's at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust – whose teams have been developing a genetic test for aggressive prostate cancer to help assess which men will respond best to a certain treatment.
Londoners Errol McKellar and Kevin Webber – two men affected by a disease that affects 330,000 men in the UK – tell their own stories during a show that also catches up with a raft of personalities that joined Jeff along the way, such as Ray Wilkins, Chris Kamara, Charlie Nicholas, Tony Cottee, Matt Le Tissier, Alastair Campbell and Sir Ian Botham.
Jeff said: “Ignoring prostate cancer won’t beat it, and I was proud to join the fight during the recent Men United March, 10 days I will never forget. From getting lost in Leeds to getting caught up in Storm Katie, walking alongside some incredible people, and crossing the finish line with Russ and my family, I’m looking forward to revisiting an unforgettable week and a half.
“There were times on the walk that only Johnny Phillips and his cameramen were smiling on, believe me, and that suggests there has been some ample material to pick from. There were highs and lows, tears and triumphs; but being able to raise an amazing amount of awareness about this disease, not to mention more than £365,000, is incredible.
“I would like to thank Sky Sports for allowing me the time to take on this challenge and for their support during the 10 days, and to my colleagues who joined me along the way. My feet may have been hurting but that paled into insignificance given what many men and their families experience through prostate cancer. My Soccer Saturday colleagues and I proudly wear Prostate Cancer UK’s ‘Man of Men’ pin badge every week, but my eyes are open more than ever, and to be able to further tell the story about the dangers of prostate cancer through this documentary long after that final stroll down Wembley Way opens up even more possibilities.
“You can’t ignore the football results on my show, and you should also not dismiss a disease that kills one man every hour. That’s six in the course of Soccer Saturday every week. One in eight men will get prostate cancer, and for black men the odds are even worse at one in four.
“I’ve met some of those men and heard stories that are heart-breaking but inspiring too. I’ve also met the scientists who pledge to find those answers and I can see how dedicated they are. But to do this we still need to raise vital funds. The walk may be finished but people can still support all the men affected by prostate cancer by visiting menunitedmarch.org and pledging their support. And if you’re still unconvinced, I’d urge people to tune in and watch the documentary and join the fight against this dreadful disease.”
Prostate Cancer UK is the Official Charity Partner of The Football League and 25 clubs were represented along the route, through the heartlands of England.
Stelling also stopped off at five Premier League clubs as well as Non-League sides Tadcaster Albion and St Albans City before an emotional finale along Wembley Way on 30 March 2016.
Prostate Cancer UK Chief Executive Angela Culhane, who walked the final marathon, and more than 50 miles during the walk, said: "The blisters may have healed after an incredible 10 days, but I’m delighted to say the legacy of Jeff’s Men United March is still very much alive.
“Fundraising has continued apace and we continue to work with the amazing walkers who joined us from Hartlepool to Wembley. It will be great to revisit the event thanks to this eagerly anticipated documentary. We’re once again grateful to Johnny Phillips and the team from Sky Sports for their support in covering it every step of the way and for their continued help spreading the message about the risks of prostate cancer.
“It was mentally and physically exhausting for them, but Jeff and Russ played their starring roles impeccably throughout and each and every walker who put their best foot forward for the cause – more than 400 of them – provided inspiration to us all.
“Ignoring prostate cancer will not beat it. But our Men United March has helped wake men up to the need to take action. Thanks to the money raised, we can fund more ground-breaking research to fight back against the disease. It will also help us provide dedicated support and information to men and their families and make prostate cancer a disease the next generation of men need not fear. We look forward to watching and getting fresh inspiration.”
The documentary’s producer, Johnny Phillips, commented: “When Jeff told me he was walking 10 marathons in 10 days to raise awareness about prostate cancer I thought there was a story to be told. Jeff is a broadcasting legend at Sky Sports and has a huge following on our Soccer Saturday programme, so to see him out and about visiting football clubs and fans across the length of England had great potential. Our pundits, led by Matt Le Tissier, have been wearing the Prostate Cancer UK badges for some time now and it seemed like a great opportunity to tell the story behind that.
“I hope the documentary shows the power of football in bringing people together – Jeff visited some areas of the country that are undergoing a very tough time economically and this is just as much a part of the story; prostate cancer strikes hardest in these areas. Hundreds of individuals approached Jeff on the walk to speak about their own courageous battles with prostate cancer. There were so many ups and downs, tears and laughs along the journey. It proved to be so much more than just another charity walk.”
You can still support Jeff, and find out more about his epic challenge, by visiting menunitedmarch.org.