Millwall chief on motivation for 160-mile charity cycle – and ‘phenomenal generosity’ of Lions fans

STEVE Kavanagh has been blown away by the response as he raises money with a charity cycle for Prostate Cancer UK – highlighting the generosity again of Millwall fans, and the wider football community.

Kavanagh set off on Thursday morning cycling with friends from Tower Bridge to The Den ahead of stops at Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton football clubs before arriving at AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium on Friday.

Kavanagh was on a Millwall-branded bicycle provided by Reilly Cycleworks on his latest fundraising cycle trip.

The Lions CEO lost his father to the illness and has participated in the Football to Amsterdam charity cycle.

Asked earlier this week if he was set for the gruelling route to the south coast, Kavanagh quipped: “As set as you can be when you’re about to sit your backside on a razor-sharp seat for the best part of 15 hours.

“I’ve worked it out at about 160 miles. It might be a bit more but I haven’t told any of the lads that are doing it with me that yet.

“If it was just purely the London to Brighton route it’s about 160 but it’s another five miles to do Tower Bridge to The Den. London-Brighton starts at Clapham Common so we’ll pick that route up there. I’ve not let on there are a couple more miles on top, it might frighten a few of them off.”

Kavanagh explained to NewsAtDen how he got involved in charity cycling rides.

“When I lost my dad the Football League at the same time had Prostate Cancer come on as a charity partner. Prostate Cancer came up with this fantastic concept of Football to Amsterdam,” he said.

“I said, ‘right, I’m going to do it’. I was at Southend at the time and I did it and raised about £3,000.

“It was a brilliant event, lots of camaraderie, ex-players. On the first one I did I was cycling with Terry Butcher and Matt Holland at one point. It sort of inspired me so I did it a couple of times.

“Unfortunately every year they did it was around the time of the Football League AGM, so it tended to clash. There were a couple of times when I couldn’t do it.

“So I was having a chat with a couple of mates and they all said, ‘you know what, we fancy doing that’.

“When I joined Millwall we took the club minibus and headed off ourselves and cycled to Amsterdam. They were following me, which was a bit scary because I didn’t know where I was going! So I’ve done the official one a few times and then with a group of us.

“Last year, obviously we couldn’t do anything. This year, you can’t take the risk of whether we can or can’t get to Amsterdam so we devised a different route. I’ve contacted the clubs so they’re all going to welcome us and give us some photo opportunities.

“We said how about we raise some money, I floated Prostate Cancer so we’ve all joined together in a team.

“My total at the moment is about seven-and-a-half thousand. The actual team of us, it’s nine-and-a-half thousand. My original target was £5,000. It got up quite quickly to that so I set what I thought was an ambitious target for us to get to £10,000. I’m really hopeful we get there before Thursday morning.”

Kavanagh highlighted the contributions yet again of Millwall fans to a charitable cause as donations poured in and he passed his individual target of £7,000.

“I put it out on a couple of the [club] newsletters – we do a monthly update now – which has raised awareness,” Kavanagh said. “Millwall fans…some of the messages on there and some of the donations have been unbelievable.

“They’ve always supported the Poppy Appeal, Cancer Day – [the latter] to the extent of beating every other club recently [in money raised] – and their generosity with these things – I’ve not gone and physically worked it out – but I think the fans alone is over £2,000.

“Directors and sponsors and employees is probably at least another £3,000 of the money I’ve raised. Also football clubs, Preston North End, Brentford, Fulham, lots of the clubs have come in and supported me as well. It went out on the EFL newsletter the other day.

“The generosity of the Millwall fans and the wider football community has been phenomenal in terms of what I thought was getting to an ambitious target for little old me getting on my bike and cycling for a couple of days.

“To get to that level of funding for Prostate Cancer is unbelievable.”

Donations to the cycling group had topped £10,000 on Friday. Contributions can be made here.

Image: Millwall FC 

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