Wednesday, 4 April 2012
FORMER TEAM MATE’S MARATHON EFFORTS IN TRIBUTE TO GARY SPEED
A team mate of former Newcastle United midfielder Gary Speed is fund-raising for charity in his memory.
Matt Jones from Llanelli played with Gary at Leeds United and in the Welsh national side. To raise money for good causes, he will be running a half marathon around the pitch at Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium ahead of Newcastle United’s Premier League game there on Friday (6th April).
And it is not the only fund-raising activity Matt has undertaken or has planned. His own football career was cut short by a spinal injury and he was already planning to run the London Marathon to raise funds for the Spinal Injuries Association when Gary died.
Matt was so devastated by the news that he vowed to increase his fund-raising efforts in tribute to his friend and is now also raising funds for the John Hartson Foundation and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation – two charities which Gary supported.
Matt says: “I’m dedicating this year to Gary’s memory and doing whatever I can to raise money for charity.
“I was completely shocked by Gary’s death and I want to do something to show much he meant to me and to help causes which I know meant a lot to him.
“Gary ran the London Marathon for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and I like to think I’m picking up the work he started.”
Matt has already run half marathons around the pitch at Leicester and Leeds, ran in the Llanelli half marathon and ran a marathon ahead of the recent international match between Wales and Costa Rica, which ended on the pitch.
Matt adds: “The marathon was a major achievement for me. I was so proud to get a big hug off Gary’s mum when I finished. She said she thought he would be very proud of me and honestly, hearing that, I could have gone back out there and ran another 26 miles.
“It’s hard doing the running around a football pitch. Depending on the ground, it’s about 68 laps for the half marathon. It’s not easy keeping turning all the time and I’ve developed a sore knee as a result. Physically it’s hard but mentally I can do this because I know it’s for Gary.
"Something that I learnt from him was that the majority of us are born without a natural gift and we all have to work our socks off to gain anything. As I've grown older I’ve seen further into Gaz's meaning.
“Gary was someone who certainly proved this in his playing career and later in his coaching and managerial careers.
"Now I want to prove that I can do this. I've set my goals and I will work hard to reach my target.
"Thanks to everyone who has already made a contribution regardless of how small it is. Every penny counts and I really do appreciate it.”
Matt has already raised over £4,000 and his target is £10,000 to divide between the Spinal Injuries Association, the John Hartson Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
In addition to Friday’s half marathon at Swansea and the London Marathon, he plans to run up and down Snowdonia (the highest mountain in Wales), host a fund-raising dinner, do a 24 hour static bike ride at a local Tesco and deliver each cheque in person to the three charities by bike.
To make a donation, please visit www.justgiving.com/mattjones7.