Footballer's hell ride for hospice

HELL hath no fury like sworn enemies!

Fans of Blackpool and Preston North End don't normally get a friendly welcome at each others' grounds.

But Seasiders and Lilywhites fans will set aside their differences to breathe fire on a gruelling fundraising mission.

Dubbed the ride "To Hell and Back", fans of the Seasiders will pedal the 17 miles from Bloomfield Road to Deepdale, while the North Enders will make the journey in the opposite direction.

Dobbies Garden Centre at Clifton has bravely agreed to act as a refreshments stop for both sets of followers half way along the route.

And for once they will unite for a common cause – to raise cash for Brian House Children's Hospice in Bispham and Derian House Children's Hospice in Chorley.

The event, on Sunday April 29, has been organised by ardent Tangerines follower Patrick McShane whose own son Callum, now 15, has recovered from leukaemia.

Patrick, 42, of West Park Drive, Blackpool, said: "Callum was diagnosed in 2001 when he was nine but, thankfully, following a bone marrow transplant, he has fully recovered.

"We were lucky and didn't need the services of a hospice but we wanted to do something to help those who aren't as lucky.

"I cycle for leisure and fitness and do the Manchester to Blackpool cycle ride every year.

"I support Blackpool and there is always lots of banter at work with the lads who support Preston so I thought this would be a great fundraiser. Cycling to the rival ground gave me the idea of calling it 'To Hell and Back'."

It is hoped that players from both clubs will wave off the cyclists from their respective home grounds starting at 8.30am on the day.

People can either cycle there and back which is 34 miles, or just do the one-way 17-mile trip.

Glenn Bowley, chairman of Blackpool Supporters Association, said: "In football terms, Blackpool and Preston are local rivals but this puts it all into perspective because it is about helping two very important children's charities.

"I'm sure supporters will be more than happy to take part – even if it does mean burning up all that energy just to get to Deepdale!"

Jon Roper, a member of the PNE supporters group, said: "Going to Bloomfield would not be most of our fans' first choice but it's for a very, very good cause so I'm sure we can put rivalries aside for one day. I think the garden centre might have to up security though!"

Brian House spokesman Roger Wolstenholme said: "We're delighted that the supporters of both clubs are joining forces to help both ourselves and Derian House because we both depend on donations to keep providing our vital services."

Entry is 10 and application forms are available from the clubs' ticket offices, Dobbies Garden Centre, Brian House Children's Hospice and Derian House, or call (01253) 763458.