When fans of Runcorn Linnets and 1874 Northwich spotted two grown men in full mountain gear – and shocking pink tutus – on arrival at their latest derby game last week, they could have been forgiven for thinking they were either seeing things or had downed one pre-match drink too many!
But eyes weren’t deceiving them. They were looking at a pair of intrepid and ambitious Runcorn fundraisers, limbering up to climb Kilimanjaro in September 2017 in aid of Cancer Research North West.
Team1Step – alias David Ash, 50, of Sandymoor and his 33-year-old nephew Chris Riley, now living in Frodsham – visited The Millbank Linnets Stadium as part of their efforts to raise £19,341 – £1 for every foot of Africa’s highest mountain, in Tanzania.
Through the generosity of officials and supporters of the fans-owned clubs, they collected £160 for the cause while raising awareness of their expedition.
They hope and expect to complete one year to the day from their appearance at The Millbank for the 1-1 draw which, despite torrential thunderstorms through late afternoon and leading up to kick-off, drew a crowd of 439.
“We’d like to thank the officials and staff of Runcorn Linnets and the fans of the Linnets and 1874 Northwich for their kindness and generosity,” said Chris Riley. “£160 was a brilliant total.
“You all made us feel so wonderfully welcome at the match and we thoroughly enjoyed being there.”
It was no coincidence that David and Chris felt very much at home at the Murdishaw ground as they boast very strong family connections to the Linnets – as the son and grandson, respectively of Betty and the late Keith Ash.
Keith and Betty ran the Linnets Travel Club in the 1980s and in ’86 organised fans transport to Wembley for the first of Linnets’ predecessor club Runcorn AFC’s three FA Trophy final appearances. Keith was also at that time the football club’s assistant secretary.
David Ash said: “I think the proudest day of Dad’s life may well have been walking out onto the Wembley turf that day, as assistant secretary of the team he loved.
“Dad died in 1988 of cancer, aged 54. Here I am now, at 50 myself. I have to say, if there’s a standout driving force behind what we’re doing, it’s Dad.”
The tutus being worn by the pair, both fathers of two, have become their trademark.
They were earlier this month donned for a 24-hour indoor marathon when the duo used a climbing machine at Pure Gym Runcorn to successfully scale the equivalent to four times the height of Everest!
“We’d set our target to climb the equivalent of both up and down Everest in 24 hours, using the Matrix ClimbMill – a total height to climb of 58,058 feet,” added David.
“By 3am on the Sunday (12 hours after starting), we had smashed the initial challenge, and completed the whole 58,058 feet!
“We then had a decision to make, what to do with the remaining 12 hours?
“There was only ever going to be one answer – let’s just do it twice!
“By 14.00 on Sunday, we were there – 116,000 feet climbed – equivalent of four times the height of Everest – or twice up and down.”
David explained: “To top the whole thing off, we added a finale consisting of the equivalent height of the national Three Peaks – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon – a combined height of 11,000 feet.
“We’d climbed a total of 127,000 feet, taking 187,000 steps to do so. More importantly, we had unified a great team and raised awareness of the challenge we’ve set out on.
“After all, what we’re doing pales into insignificance versus the challenges that people face week to week, day to day and minute to minute, from cancer.”
Donations can be made to the appeal via a JustGiving page by clicking here.
For Text Giving – send text “TOP47 £5” to 70070