Ahead of the launch of his fundraising auction, Corby Town assistant manager Dave Clarke revealed that the support shown towards him from the football family had left him emotional.
Clarke was diagnosed with leukaemia in September last year and underwent treatment the cancer ward at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Now he is looking to help raise funds for the hospital with an auction that includes items such as a signed Jamie Vardy(pictured below left) shirt, Kaspar Schmichael signed goalkeeper gloves and a shirt signed by the Birmingham City squad.
That has left Clarke overwhelmed by the support that he has recieved from people within the game.
“It’s quite emotional actually, thinking people are willing to help me like that. It is amazing, you go through your career trying to make something for yourself but you come
into contact with people who are willing to do this”
I was toying with all sorts of ideas like running or biking but I can’t take part in that, physically it isn’t possible. I am lucky that I have a lot of contacts within the game and there are people I have come across, when they found out, they were only too happy to help by providing auction items”
Clarke, who made over 400 appearances for non-league clubs including Tamworth and Hinckley United, admitted that the events of the past twelve months had made a big impact on, not only his life, but that of his family.
However, he is determined to ensure that he can bring a positive result out of such a difficult time.
“It’s still difficult to talk about really. Initially things didn’t look good but I have responded well to chemotherapy and now I have to take chemotherapy tablets every day and probably will have to for the rest of my life unless the clever people who deal with these things can find a cure.
It has affected me and my family and I have been off work for the last four months. I can’t get involved in football because of the side effects of the tablets, they drain your energy levels.
But I am trying to turn a negative into a positive and try to help the ward”
It was his time at the Infirmary that left Clarke feeling that he had to do something to support them.
And he paid tribute to the work done by the NHS workers he had come into contact with and expressed his hopes that he could give something back to the cancer unit.
“The NHS, from my GP to the specialists I saw at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, have all been absolutely fantastic for me. It was something that I wanted to do as soon as I came out of hospital. So the auction is what we came up with”
Clarke is also grateful for the support he has received from Corby Town, describing them as “fantastic”
“Corby Town have been fantastic. I started with the club a couple of years ago with my good friend Tommy Wright, who is manager. We did really well last season and got promoted against the odds almost. This year is tough in the National League North but there are big hitters in there.
As soon as I told Tommy and he told the club, they were brilliant, very supportive.
They are supporting the fundraising and Natalie, who deals with the social media output has helped by contacting the right people to get this out there”
Support has come from outside of the football family too.
One of the biggest bands in the world, Kasabian, got involved through a mutual friend.
Lead singer Tom Meighan, signed a jacket worn at a Teenage Cancer Trust gig and that will take pride of place in the auction, which begins on Monday 11th January and Clarke explained how the band got involved.
“Kasabian got involved as they live quite close, one of my friends went to school with them. When I was approaching footballers I put it to him to get them involved. He went to Tom Meighan’s house on Christmas Eve and asked him to sign the jacket, which he did.
They took photos and then brought the jacket around to my house. It was a shock, they are worldwide rock stars so I hope that will go well in the auction”
The proceeds from the auction will go towards buying exercise equipment for the cancer ward, a result of Clarke’s “sadness” at seeing long-term patients having to exercise on the ward itself.
Now he aims to provide them with a treadmill and cross-trainer, although he hopes that even more equipment can be provided if the auction is a bigger success than has been expected.
“The money is to go to help the ward get some proper fitness equipment in, so people can get on a treadmill and watch TV for ten minutes. That will help them mentally and physically.
It was very apparent that they needed funding for some equipment because the long-term patients only get exercise by walking up and down the ward.
That isn’t the best place to do exercise because it is like these ill people being paraded. They need to exercise but it isn’t very private and I find that upsetting.
I just want to raise as much as possible, all I set out for was a cross trainer and a treadmill but the more money the better. If we raise more we can buy better equipment, or maybe add to what we can give them.
You are never sure with an auction how things will go but I am hopeful that it will go down well”
If you wish to view the list of items and make a bid, you can do this from Monday 11th January via Dave Clarke’s eBay page dave85clarkey2015
Or if you wish to make a donation to his Just Giving page, this can be found here.
Everyone at Non-League Daily wishes Dave the very best of luck throughout the auction and we hope it raises as much money as possible for the ward.
Interview: Mark Carruthers
Images: Corby Town FC, www.actionimages.com