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Tuktuk Day 103

Open photo

After the fleshpots of the capital, it is now down to the more genteel Plymouth Argyle who coincidentally sit one place above QPR after a HUGE win against Leicester City. It is the club where 20 year friend Matt Mitchell has been a lifetime fan. Not only is he an ardent fan, he has also put his money where his mouth is and has sponsored the Championship team. As sponsorship blogs have always received record views and interaction, I am sure you will appreciate this one too.

Plymouth Argyle & First Class Support The Power of Partnership:

Why Our Company Sponsored the Shirt of Plymouth Argyle Football Club during their FA Cup campaign in 2024.

In the world of football, sponsorship plays a vital role in supporting clubs and enabling them to achieve their goals. As a forward-thinking company, we are proud to have sponsored the shirt sleeve of Plymouth Argyle Football Club. This article explores the reasons behind our decision and the benefits it brings to both our company and the club. Shared Values and Community Engagement: Our decision to sponsor Plymouth Argyle FC’s shirt was driven by our alignment of values and commitment to community engagement. First Class Support is a multi award winning company that provides academic, employment, healthcare, and mental health support to individuals (and groups) across the United Kingdom. We became incorporated in 2015 and due to outstanding professional expertise, the company has recorded an annual growth averaging 30% year on year, thus making FCS one of the most popular and in-demand support providers in the country. Matters relating to equality are at the core of all of our support operations, which are reflected across demographics including accessibility, ethnicity, national identity, religion, sexual identity, gender identity, and age. 

Like us, the club recognizes the importance equality and fostering strong relationships within the community. By sponsoring the shirt, we demonstrate our dedication to supporting local initiatives, promoting unity, and giving back to the community that has been instrumental in our company’s success.

Brand Visibility and Market Reach:

Sponsoring the shirt of a professional football club provides our company with significant brand visibility and exposure.

Plymouth Argyle FC boasts a loyal and passionate fan base, locally, nationally and even internationally. By having our logo prominently displayed on the sleeve of the shirt, we increase our brand recognition among a wide audience, reaching not only the fans attending matches but also those watching games on television and following the club’s progress online. This exposure allows us to strengthen our market reach and increase brand awareness. Positive Association and Brand Image: Sponsorship of a reputable sports club like Plymouth Argyle FC helps enhance our brand image and creates a positive association. Supporting a team with a rich history and strong fan base reinforces our reputation as a company that values excellence, teamwork, and community spirit. Our company, even though we are national, was founded in Plymouth. By aligning our brand with the club, we aim to instill trust and loyalty among existing and potential customers, as they see our commitment to supporting local sports and communities.

Employee Morale and Team Building:

Sponsoring Plymouth Argyle FC’s shirt not only benefits our brand externally but also internally.

It creates a sense of pride among our employees, who can see our company’s name associated with a professional sports team. This association creates a positive work environment, boosts morale, and encourages teamwork among employees. Supporting a local club also helps build a stronger sense of community within our company, as employees feel connected to the team and its supporters.

Open photo

Adam Randell, a local lad dubbed the Plymstock Pirlo

Business Networking and Partnerships:

Sponsorship provides valuable opportunities for business networking and partnerships.

By associating ourselves with Plymouth Argyle FC, we gain access to a network of local businesses, sponsors, and influential individuals connected to the club. This opens doors for collaboration, joint marketing initiatives, and potential business partnerships that can further enhance our brand’s reach and growth prospects. Sponsoring the shirt of Plymouth Argyle Football Club has proven to be a strategic decision for our company. It aligns with our values, enhances brand visibility, creates positive associations, boosts employee morale, and opens doors to new business opportunities. Our partnership with the club goes beyond a mere sponsorship; it is a testament to our commitment to the local community and our belief in the power of sports to bring people together.

Tuktuk Day 102

QPR …again

If you saw yesterday’s blog, you will see that I was getting excited about the programme fair at QPR’s Loftus Rd this week. The organiser, Martin Percival, kindly got in touch and supplied me some background information! An interesting history! He also made me aware of a blog I had never seen. Enjoy!

Martin is providing the answers (a)

Q. How did the QPR Football Programme and Memorabilia Fair come about? Has anything like this taken place previously?

A. I attended the two previous fairs held at Loftus Road – they were both a very long time ago now! The May 1986 fair was organised by long time Rangers fan and collector Martin Botwright plus Daphne Biggs of the Official Supporters Club. It took place in the old Players Lounge in the South Africa Road stand. The previous one, in September 1981, was held in the then newly built club shop. The one time Rangers Club Director, Tony Williamson, was involved in that event’s organisation together with Daphne. 

Both events were a lot of fun. I met many fellow Rangers collectors at them, many of whom are still good friends. Fairs are a great way of bringing people with a common interest together. So I suggested the idea of a fair at the Forevers Rs planning meeting in January. Fortunately the club were really receptive and supportive of the idea – they have helped enormously with publicising it. 

Q. Why hold it in the Forever Rs bar?

The Forever Rs bar was launched in the summer of 2023 and has been a big success. People love all of the memorabilia that has been added to the bar over the last few months. Much of this has been very kindly donated by fans. So it’s the obvious venue for an event like this. It’s light and bright and has flat access for table holders. It’ll also be an opportunity for some of the fans attending to see the bar for the first time, because on match days it’s only accessible to fans with Upper and Lower Loft tickets. Any profits made will go to the Forever Rs funds.

Q. What are those funds used for?

A. They help to cover some of the costs of transportation and accommodation for the ex players and their families when they come back to Loftus Road. So many past players are from an era when they were not earning big money from the game, so they really do appreciate a bit of help with the costs of visiting Rangers again. 

Q. What’s the most collectable football related type of memorabilia nowadays?

A. You name it, someone collects it! When I started collecting as a 10 year old kid in 1973, it was mostly programmes for club sides, big match programmes like the FA Cup final and internationals. Scarfs, badges, pennants and rosettes were popular too. Many people nowadays wouldn’t even know what a pennant or a rosette is! 

Collecting has expanded and it’s almost anything and everything now. Old match tickets are very popular, shirts are massive, Subbuteo teams, old magazines, handbooks, photos, cards, stickers, fanzines  – there’s collectors for almost everything.

Q. Will all of those collectables be on sale on 21 April?

A. I certainly hope so. I have done my best to attract a wide variety of dealers. All being well there will be something to interest everyone.

Q. How has the football memorabilia collecting hobby changed? I suspect that the internet has been probably the biggest change?

A. Yes – the launch of eBay in the late 1990s meant that that much collecting moved online. Nowadays the really rare items, especially pre war items, like player’s shirts and medals, are typically sold at online auctions or at very specialist in person auctions. 

Q. Going back 50 years to when you started collecting, where did people typically find programmes? 

A. Dealers catalogues and attending fairs were how most people built up their collections before the dawn of the internet, plus club shops of course. Many club shops sold programmes, especially at non league clubs. Wycombe Wanderers and Hayes, amongst others, had really good club shops. Rangers even had a specialist programme shop in addition to the club souvenir shop. In the early 1970s it was located underneath the South Africa Road stand, before it moved round to the Ellerslie Road stand in the mid 1970s. Later on, in the mid to late 1980s, Daphne Biggs used to sell old programmes plus recent away programmes from the Pools Office next door to the box office.

I don’t know when or where the first specialist programme fair took place, but my first one was the National Programme Fair at the Russell Square hotel back in May 1975. I was thrilled to find older pre 1970s programmes. It’s hard to believe, but they were not too easy to find at that time. Getting a copy of the 1967 League Cup Final programme was a huge thrill. It was actually quite hard to find then!

Q. How did you build up your own collection?

A. My first home match was v Coventry City in November 1973. As we were leaving the ground my brother and I spotted the programme shop under the old South Africa Road terrace. We asked if we could go in there. It was like Aladdin’s Cave! Thousands of old Rs programmes from the previous 5 seasons with the chequered cover design pioneered by the club secretary Ron Phillips. 

 What we didn’t realise at the time was that my Dad was a collector. He had kept all of his programmes and handbooks from November 1945, when he returned home from Army service. A few months later I discovered the huge box of them in the loft!! He encouraged both my brother and I in our collecting. Unfortunately almost all of his collection from 1926 to 1939 were thrown out during the war. Fortunately though his 1935/6 Supporters Club badge did survive – the very first season of the Official Supporters Club. It’s the badge that I treasure the most. 

So my collection is essentially a mixture of my Dad’s programmes from 1945 onwards plus everything that I collected from 1973 onwards. It’s very comprehensive from 1945 to 2000.  

Q. So who is going to be selling at the fair?

A. We have a very good mixture of dealers, book authors plus a few Rangers fans who will also be selling. Andy Evans is also having a Community Trust table. Michael Wale has also very kindly offered to draw the winning raffle ticket for a prize donated by Rs fan and collector Nick Guoth. The whole event is shaping up well. It’s been a great team effort.

So far we have confirmed;

  • The book authors and Rangers fans Ray Eaton and Francis Peacock, who will both be selling their really well written recently published Rs books. 
  • Fan wise we have Martin Botwright who has an amazing collection and who used to do a lot of fair work with Brentside Programmes back in the 1980s and 90s. 
  • The main dealer is Dorian Taylor. Dorian runs DG Taylor programmes and he’s a Rangers fan, a collector and also a specialist Rangers dealer.
  • In terms of badges, Les Easterbrook who has an excellent selection of badges. As with everyone else attending, Les has been a huge help in spreading the word about the event as well as sharing his advice and tips for the organisation. 
  • Lee Hermitage of North West Middlesex Football Programmes and Memorabilia will be attending and will mainly be bringing old classic football magazines. Lee used to run the shop at Hayes – probably the very best in the country 15 years ago in the days before Hayes sold their old Church Road ground. 
  • Richard Letts – Corner Programmes.
  • Terry O’Neill – Terry’s Football Memorabilia specialising in programmes, books, magazines and cards.
  • Tom Roe – a variety of Football Memorabilia
  • Elmo Books – Emil and Karen specialising in football books 
  • Mark Barnes – Welling Collectables, Mark mainly specialises in football shirts 


    You can find the entire interview here

Everybody will know that I have a passion for books and football. I also have a passion for chess and travel. Let’s stick to QPR plus books today! Here is an excerpt form a recent QPR newsletter.

“AS PART of our work on environmental sustainability, QPR is proudly supporting the Children’s Book Project – and is encouraging R’s fans to do the same.

Across London and the UK, one in four disadvantaged children own fewer than 10 books, while one in eight have none at all.  

This has an impact not only on these children’s academic outcomes but also on their wellbeing, emotional development and sense of themselves as a reader.

The Children’s Book Project directly tackles this ‘book gap’ and gifts donated books to targeted communities across the capital.  

Over 500 schools, community groups, women’s groups and prisons nationwide put on book gifting events at which children are invited to choose a book to take home and keep.

The charity expects to gift upwards of 350,000 books this year.

And this is where YOU can help.

We are asking supporters to show their backing by donating any unwanted books they may have. These can be left at Main Reception at MATRADE Loftus Road where a drop-off point will be in place from 10am-5pm.

Let’s do our bit and help disadvantaged children across London and the UK.

To learn more about the Children’s Book Project, click HERE.


Anyway, I thought this was an absolutely fantastic initiative and I am appalled that so many children have so few books. I was brought up with books from a very early age and I still have a huge collection. I have been selling them off to raise funds for Prostate Cancer but still have hundreds to go. So, I am now in touch with the London Book Project and I am thinking of setting myself a target of donating 1,000 books in the next twelve months. It’s early days in the thought process but you heard it here first! The trouble with targets is that before you start with no history or stats to work on then any number is just a dream figure. Perhaps I can only get 500! Perhaps 1,000 is a ridiculous goal. Perhaps I can do 1,000 before lunch. I don’t know but I DO know that I will get something in writing in the next few days and commit to it! “

Spain

…and in the spirit of trying to help people, this is from a close friend in Spain. Benalmadena is a town directly on the Costa del Sol between Malaga and Fuengirola. In fact, it’s literally next door to the more famous Torremolinos. If you are over there please do feel free to say “hola.”

Benalmadena Ladiews Walking Football

Benalmadena Ladies Walking Football Club unveil new strip and welcome new players

Benalmadena Ladies Walking Football Club was formed in November 2020, by Cath John. She was asked to form a ladies’ team to join an established men’s team for a charity match to raise money for a close friend with Motor Neurone Disease. The charity match was such a success that the club was officially formed a few months later.

They now have 25 players and 15 social members and welcome new players to join their growing club. There’s no need to have played before and everyone is welcome. Some of their highlights have been winning the Competa Tournament last May and players representing Spain Ladies Walking football in the international tournaments in Morocco and in France this year.
They are sponsored by Specsavers Ópticas in Fuengirola, who has been sponsoring them since October 2023. The store came on board as they have two employees in the team, and they love to support developing sports in the local community. The club unveiled a new kit earlier this year and are looking forward to their tour to Portugal in May and hosting a tournament in Benalmadena in November 2024.

Cath John explains how the game works, “Walking football is different to regular football in that you can’t run, and you can only have three touches before you pass. This makes it much more skilful than you realise, with the weight and accuracy of the pass being very important.

I am very proud of our club. We are a group of women who are here to support each other, even though we have very different backgrounds and personalities, and we give back to the community through raising money for the children’s cancer charity AVOI. Thanks to our sponsors Specsavers Ópticas Fuengirola for their support and we look forward to welcoming any new ladies who would like to come and give walking football a try this year.”

Team member Emma Thorne Lees adds, “I am proud of my team as we are such a mixed and unique bunch of individuals. Everyone is welcome and accepted as part of the group. We all love to play, but also don’t take ourselves too seriously and have good fun in the process!”

If you would like to find out more about playing for the Benalmadena Ladies Walking Football Club, contact them on playcation1{at}gmail.com or call 617 612 361. Find out more about Specsavers Ópticas at www.specsavers.es

Tuktuk Day 101

It’s Sunday and that can only mean one thing. Darren Ashley updates us on his travels and yesterday he was off to Royston Town for their game against Kettering Town. You are going to love this one.

Before that, sadly, I have to report that a 3-0 defeat for FC Deportivo Galicia at an excellent Berks County condemned the West London club to another season at Step 6. Even before the game, other results made promotion mathematically impossible but a first defeat in eight against a very impressive home side who share the superb facilities at Ascot United was a sad end to a great run. So very close for the last two seasons. It’s got to be third time lucky! Gillingham likewise had a hugely impressive win against Play-Off contenders Barrow but they will need all six points from the remaining two games to even have a chance of scraping a play-off place. I keep the faith! It’s all that keeps us going!

Darren says, “Thanks to an invite from Royston Town media man and board member Neil MacLeod, yesterday, I was in Hertfordshire to film a vlog of their match versus Kettering Town. (Editor’s note: They have played their home games at Garden Walk since 1932. Founded in 1875, it is the third oldest club in Hertfordshire, behind Hitchin Town and Bishop’s Stortford…not a lot of people know that!)

With a warm day expected, I decided to ditch my usual orange coat for something far more befitting of the weather, and, when I arrived at around 13.00, I wasn’t wrong; it was a beautiful spring day.

I met Mick and Steve on arrival…they were manning the entrance of the car park which, is down a lane and in the football ground itself. Mick surprised me by telling me he was there just after 10.00, despite it being a 15.00 kick off. The reason is, anyone would just take the spaces and they were needed, first and foremost, for the visiting away team!

So, once inside the ground, I was immediately impressed how scenic the aptly named Garden Walk ground was. I would imagine all ground hoppers would really like it.

Once settled, I started to meet people from both teams, to find out what the recent form was like, and the moods in the respective changing rooms.

All was positive, so, did my usual pre-match manager interviews. As always, both managers, Chris Watters, and Richard Lavery were friendly and helpful

Chris even went the extra mile by agreeing to do another interview as I wasn’t happy with the lighting when I first interviewed him……the lighting of the bright sun.

So, with kick off time fast approaching, I made my way onto the pitch to capture the teams coming out. This is a relatively new thing I try to do on my clogs, and I’m always grateful when the home team gives me permission and I never take it for granted

I also had another bonus perk, as Neil, had also allowed me up in the gantry to film the match.

Now, as you all know now in this column, I won’t give many match spoilers, as I would rather like to to watch the vlog, but the match was played fast and furious, there were goals, a couple of controversies, and a particularly scintillating performance from one of the teams!

When the final whistle blew, I made my way down from the gantry onto the pitch to capture some celebrations, and, another on the spot interview (that was a first, never had manager post match reaction that quickly before). I really enjoyed doing that. It was an on-the-moment one, although I didn’t notice the background antics of a couple of the players.

It was almost time to wrap up for the day, but first, I had to record the end summary of the vlog and also, Royston Town’s well-known meat raffle!! I was warned that would be lively, and so, it proved.

Time to go home then, however, I had to quickly find Neil and Steve to thank them. They had both been so helpful to me and I wanted to let them know it was much appreciated. Then the drive home.

Honestly, I had a brilliant day. Royston Town is a very special club, and I definitely have to go back next season when I expect them to do some great things, on and off the pitch. I also have to say as well, the Kettering Town team staff and fans were great with me too, which I’m very pleased about, because, I’m visiting their ground next weekend for a vlog, which, incidentally, I’m really looking forward to already.

Thanks for reading, everybody”

So, let’s all shoot off to enjoy Darren’s Vlog and, feel free to subscribe at no cost, so you will never miss a game. Please remember, if you would like him to visit your club, do make contact. I know he will be delighted to try to fit in another 40 games next season!

Tuktuk Day 100

QPR

It’s a bit of Déjà vu  today as I know Justin kindly hosted a QPR day but I have always had a soft spot for the Rs since the days of Stan Bowles, Dave Thomas, Rodney Marsh etc and I happily used to walk to Loftus Rd along Uxbridge Rd, if for no other reason than it was faster than the 607 bus! This week I have passed the stadium most days and I thought I should comment on a couple of interesting events. Hope you will indulge me! I will get to MK Franchise….sometime, maybe

First off we have a programme fair. Now there is nothing too extraordinary about that but this is the first one since 1986 so it’s a bit of a novelty and hopefully will be repeated. I know Les Easterbrook will have a huge selection of badges and I am told that a good crowd is expected. Last week was Kensington (see below) and that was a record attendance. Just seen that there is an event in Stoke too. It would be rude not to add it. These programme fairs are held regularly throughout the year. Ping me if you need dates/venues. Many are impressively organised by Barry Dixey Enjoy.

As I was writing this I noticed a Facebook thread by life-time QPR fan, journalist and hispanophile, Eugene Costello and I cheekily asked whether he would pen some thoughts on the club. He happily agreed to. Top Man!

“Yesterday’s drubbing of the Hoops by the Tigers at the MKM Stadium means we are beyond flirting with relegation and getting ready for a second date.

That said, it’s not really the second date. We were relegated to the third tier of English football previously. I had a season ticket in the early Noughties when we were in the third tier and Ian Holloway took over from Gerry Francis. I was there for the excruciating loss to Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium – in Cardiff, to rub it in. I remember screaming “Square it, Tommy!” as the speedy but hapless Tommy Williams executed a beautiful run down the left almost to the byline, leaving himself an impossible shooting angle that he fluffed when the only move was to square it to legendary poacher Paul Furlong. Then again, escaping from Cardiff with locals on motorway bridges throwing objects at our coaches was bad enough. Maybe it’s just as well we didn’t win.

The three seasons in the third tier were sobering. The club mascot is Jude the Cat, and perhaps it’s more than a coincidence that St Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes. Whatever way you slice it, following the Rs has been useful in terms of managing my expectations in life. I was asked to come up with some good memories about life in the lower leagues. I have to say, it was hard to pick out many. Thin gruel, as Jacob-Rees Mogg might say, recalling his boarding school meals, no doubt.

I will say there are good memories of the camaraderie of going away with my mates to “real football grounds”, including my late mate Declan McHale, dyed-in-the-wool Rangers. Northampton, Peterborough, three-sided Bournemouth and so on. Usually treated as a weekend away, with plenty of drinking afoot.

And some golden memories. Portman Road against Ipswich when as players were walking back to the halfway line, their keeper kicked the ball out – only for it to hit Paul Furlong’s head and drop to the floor. Incredulously, he looked at this gift and – poacher through and through – began to sprint back towards the hapless goalkeeper and fired a screamer past him. Joyful.

And then two beauties from Gareth “Wild Thing” Ainsworth at the former Dr Martens Stadium against the former Rushden and Diamonds in the 2003/04 season. The part-time rock idol, full-time winger wrangled his way past two defenders and unleashed a rocket from 30 yards out that beat the keeper to land in the left-hand corner of the net. Beautiful. He himself would describe it as his “second best goal of all time.”

And the first? Same game, slightly earlier. A long pass across the pitch from the left wing to Ainsworth in more or less the same position, and it drops onto his right foot for an exocet of a volley. It screams, rises and drops into the same left-hand corner. In an interview, Ainsworth describes it as “magical”, and “a treat” for all the travelling Rs supporters who were there that day.

Ian Holloway laughs when he remembers R&Ds’ Barry Hunter screaming at the keeper, and says “What could he have done?” 

Ainsworth would return as manager last season, fortuitously.

From qpr.co.uk. “QPR begin the season in similarly fine fashion under new head coach Mick Beale and were top of the Championship after 16 games. But Beale’s departure to Glasgow Rangers in November instigated a campaign of struggle, ultimately. Neil Critchley replaced Beale as boss but departed in the February. Popular former winger Gareth Ainsworth left Wycombe Wanderers to take over from Critchley and steered the R’s to safety on the penultimate weekend of the season.”

So dark days, results wise. But some delicious memories.

I mentioned my beloved friend Declan McHale. In 2019, he was diagnosed as having a brain tumour. He went down fairly rapidly. He lived for QPR so I contacted Paul Morrissey, director of communications at the club. His response was incredible. The club would, he said, like to offer a box for 12 people, with free half-time catering and a space for a family member as mascot. This was for the Stoke game on the 15th of February. The family was overjoyed. I arranged it in coordination with his older brother Austin, whose claim to fame is that he once appeared on Mastermind where his specialist subject was “QPR: 1967 to now”.

And that sense of family is what makes QPR stand out. Later that year, Declan would pass. But I’ll always smile when I remember how the club gave him and his family that incredible memory. I can’t see that happening at some of the bigger, “more successful” clubs.

So if you are fearing the drop, all I can say is, “Don’t Fear The Reaper”. 

There is more to being part of the QPR family than statistics.” 

Eugene Costello
Freelance journalist and editor

NUJ number: 009926

Founder and editor of Valencia Life
https://valencialife.es


Thanks so much for that unique view, Eugene. One of the first ever games I saw was QPR at Gillingham back in 1964. It was a 2-2 draw and in the “old” League Division Three. Just checking on 11v11 there appears to have been 58 games between the two teams in League Division Three (South) and two at the second level. This sort of confirms where the two clubs have spent most of their lives. I will remind everybody, however, that QPR have spent seasons at the Top Table – remember Warnock! The current plight is therefore even more distressing. There IS hope although Millwall’s win against Cardiff and Blackburn Rover’s MOST unlikely win at Leeds Utd did not help the cause!

Good Luck, guys. I will be back later this week to talk about QPR’s work in the community.

Tuktuk Day 99

Pitch Publishing

I am delighted to see such interest in books about football I have featured on my blog by writers like Gary Thacker, Chris Lee and Miguel Pereira

It seemed sensible therefore to add some updates from Pitch Publishing that arrived today. Enjoy!
My two selections are both Spain-focused but the Pitch Publishing newsletter has something for everyone.

Rise of a New Dynasty

“Rise of a New Dynasty” charts FC Barcelona Femini’s journey from 2019 to 2023 with in-depth tactical analysis and player interviews. It explores the factors behind their sustained growth, analysing the tactics and strategies that helped them to conquer Europe. Written by Abdullah Abdullah, an author and analyst, who has written for the likes of ESPN, Analytics FC and The Equalizer, and has consulted for a notable club in the United States. Originally from Karachi, Pakistan, he now lives in Dubai, UAE, spending his days working and his nights writing. Abdullah’s writing is tactically focused, yet easy to understand. Rise of a New Dynasty: FC Barcelona Femini’s Emerging Legacy is his fourth book.

EURO 1984

Euro 1984 tells the fascinating story of perhaps the greatest European Championship. Largely ignored in the UK, due to none of the home nations qualifying, it was a thrilling competition full of attacking football, and featured iconic matches, teams and players who contributed to one of the greatest international tournaments of all time. Aidan Williams is part of the editorial team for These Football Times, regularly appearing online and in their magazines and podcasts discussing football issues both current and past, with particular emphasis on international football history, on and off the field. Aidan’s work has also featured in The Guardian and The Athletic. Euro 1984 is his third book, following The Nearly Men and Worst in the World.

My note: I was following Spain but also had a soft spot for Denmark. That’s a quarter of the qualifiers! Yes, in this competition there were only eight teams. The competition started off in 1960 with just four but now we are up to 24. How things have changed.

I hope these suggestions help you. How can you help me back? Well, please kindly remember that the purpose of this 90 day challenge is to raise funds for my local football club and an equal amount for Prostate Cancer. As always, I HOPE you are all enjoying the tour of the UK and that you will consider a donation to support FC Deportivo Galicia and/or Prostate Cancer UK If everybody chipped in with just £1 I would easily hit my target of £10,000 and life would be easier in West London whilst the charity could continue their great work. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can. If you can’t please consider sharing this website on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn or wherever and if you want me to feature your club, kit, team etc just ping me.



Tuktuk Day 98

Around The Courses in 80 Days 

Well, this is a different day and it is not football or cancer related but it’s such a great cause and it is a parallel story to mine! Please indulge me.

My Facebook friend, Graham Arnold is also off on a challenge. Not digital, not a pushbike, not a Jules Verne but rather he IS visiting all the UK racecourses. I cannot claim to have any knowledge of racecourses or horseracing and I think I have been to less than a handful over the last 60 years and they were usually for business presentations rather than spectating. Graham is obviously keener. Good Luck, amigo.

He started off at Exeter (see below) and he plans to visit all the 59 racecourses in just 80 days. I read, “Graham Arnold, a horse racing fanatic will be setting off in April 2024 to visit all 59 British racecourses on an actual race day all in 80 days. He’s doing this to raise money for Dementia UK, a charity very close to his heart. He will invite folk to join him to walk each course before racing. With your support, we can make a difference in the lives of those living with Dementia.​

We need your help to make this fundraising event a success. Join us in our journey to raise money for Dementia UK. You can participate in our walk before racing or make a donation to support our cause.

Our goal is to raise £20,000 for Dementia UK. With your help, we can make a difference in the lives of people affected by dementia.

We are looking for volunteers to join our team and help us organize this event. If you are passionate about horse racing and want to make a difference in the lives of people affected by dementia, we want to hear from you. Contact us to learn more about how you can get involved.”

You can learn more, check his route and agree where to meet on his excellent website

Good luck, Graham



Tuktuk Day 97

Gary Thacker – Books on Spain

We had an interesting “day” last week talking about Spanish football and anybody who knows me knows that Steve+Spain+Football+Books equals “Almost heaven, West Virginia.”

One of my favourite writers about Spanish football is Gary Thacker who has written two of my absolute “must read, highly recommended” books about the non-league game in Spain. If you have any interest in the subject I’d definitely shoot to his website and get them both – “The Games People Play” and “A Whole New Ball Game.” In fact if you have any interest in football, give yourself an hour or two as there are dozens of great articles on subjects as diverse as Lineker, Escobar, CSKA Sofia, Raul etc etc etc. Four Four Two eat your heart out!

Gary has his fiction on Spain as well as definitive works about the Dutch and their “nearly-teams”, Chelsea, the English and Brazilian national teams and much more. Enjoy.

The Games People Play / A Whole New Ball Game – Gary Thacker
Two seasons and two separate docu-novels about life in levels 9 and 10 of the Spanish structure.

These novels follow an English coach in the lower leagues of Spanish football and his relationships, his successes and defeats both on and off the pitch. It is great escapist fiction, perhaps for your summer holidays by the pool or in the English driving rain as you dream about a holiday in Spain! Far-fetched? Yes. Impossible? Absolutely not. It’s life very far away from Real Madrid, Barcelona, the Galácticos, los Yeyés and their likes.

Like all great writers he is a great reader and he kindly forwarded his list of must-reads for anybody interested about learning about Spain. I have read or know of most and can’t disagree with any. I have added more details at www.ThisIsSpain.info

· An Anarchist’s Story (Chris Dolan)

·The Transformation of Spain (David Gilmour)

· Homage to Caledonia (Daniel Gray)

· Tales of The Alhambra (Washington Irving)

· The Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War (Robert Alexander)

· A New International History of the Spanish Civil War (Michael Alpert)

· Unlikely Heroes (Richard Baxell)

· For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemmingway)

· Barcelona (Robert Hughes) · Durruti (Abel Paz)

· The Spanish Civil War (Mark Lawrence)

· Homage to Catalonia (George Orwell)

· After the Civil War (Michael Richards)

· A People Betrayed (Paul Preston)

· The Spanish Civil War (Paul Preston)

· Comrades! (Paul Preston)

· The Last Days of the Spanish Republic (Paul Preston)

· Doves of War (Paul Preston)

· Hell and Good company (Richard Rhodes)

· The Last Stalinist – The Life of Santiago Carillo (Paul Preston)

· The Spanish Civil War (Francisco J Romero Salvado)

· Twentieth Century Spain (Francisco J Romero Salvado)

· Britons in Spain (William Rust)

· Brother Against Brother (Ed. Frank Thomas)

· To Make the People Smile Again (George Wheeler)

· Carteles de la Guerra Civil Espanol (Various)

· British Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War (Richard Baxell)

· The Spanish Second Republic Revisited (Manuel Alvares Tarido & Fernando del Reguillo)

· The Battle for Spain – The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (Antony Beevor)

· The Spanish Civil War (Antony Beevor)

· Guernica (Dave Bolling)

· To Remember Spain: The Anarchist & Syndicalist Revolution of 1936 (Murray Brookchin)

· I am Spain (David Boyd Haycock)

· The Life & Death of the Spanish Republic (Henry Buckley)

· Blood & Faith – The Purging of Muslim Spain 1492-1614 (Matthew Carr)

· The Moor’s Last Stand (Elizabeth Drayson)

· Brigadista – An Irishman’s Fight Against Fascism (Bob Doyle)

· Modern Spain 1875-1980 (Raymond Carr)

I would personally add Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football (Phil Ball) and Fear and Loathing in La Liga (Sid Lowe) although I recognise that they are about football IN Spain rather than about Spain per se. Certainly, I believe if you follow Gary’s choices you have a fantastic overview of Spain through the centuries and, as importantly, Spain’s transformation in the last 50 years from a dictatorship to a forward-looking, economically-sound world power.

I hope these ideas help you. How can you help me back? Well, please kindly remember that the purpose of this 90 day challenge is to raise funds for my local football club and an equal amount for Prostate Cancer. As always, I HOPE you are all enjoying the tour of the UK and that you will consider a donation to support FC Deportivo Galicia and/or Prostate Cancer UK If everybody chipped in with just £1 I would easily hit my target of £10,000 and life would be easier in West London whilst the charity could continue their great work. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can. If you can’t please consider sharing this site on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn or wherever and if you want me to feature your club, kit, team etc just ping me.

Thanks in advance.

Tuktuk Day 96

March for Men 2024

2023 March For Men Group Cheering

So much more than just a walk in the park

Walk side-by-side with your community on a charity walk around London’s beautiful Battersea Park.  

Join us on Sunday 2 June and help fund lifesaving research that could save men’s lives. 

Join us at March for Men

What to expect on the day?

Bring your family, friends and even your dog for a great day out with an important purpose. 

March alongside thousands as we share stories, celebrate loved ones, and walk towards a better future for men. 

Enjoy live music check out information stands and entertain the kids with a scavenger hunt. 

Join us Sunday 2 June in London’s Battersea Park

2023 March For Men Event Village
2024 MFM Map

Choose Your Distance: 

Take on a 2.5km, 5km, or 10km walk. 

Whichever distance you choose, you’ll be walking together – taking on  

1, 2 or 4 laps around the beautiful Battersea Park. 
 
The route is fully pathed, making it accessible for both wheelchairs and buddies. It’s fully signposted and marshalled so everyone stays on track. 

Get Involved

Research Science Adobestock 158429858

Choose your own fundraising target

Your fundraising can change the future for men, and support those who’re already navigating their disease.

£75 funds 5 hours of specialist work to analyse prostate cancer samples, advancing research on how to stop the disease spreading.

£150 allows a researcher to utilise cutting-edge laser technology for half a day, exploring new treatments to support the immune system’s response to prostate cancer. (Most people aim for this)

£300 pays for surgery support packs for 25 men, these include incontinence pads, wipes, and informative guides for post-surgery expectations.

2024 03 MFM Rewards

Your rewards! 

There are some exciting rewards to claim when you reach these fundraising milestones. 

March for Men T-shirt 

Everyone gets a March for Men t-shirt. Wear it proudly as you walk side-by-side with your community.  

Shoelaces 

Raise £150 and we’ll send you a pair of our brand-new shoelaces. It’s time to strap in and save lives. 

Coffee Cup 

Raise £300 and we’ll send you our double walled, stainless steel, vacuum insulation coffee cup. Perfect for when you’re on the move. 

Can’t make it to Battersea Park?

Join other March for Men supporters, up and down the UK, who are heading to their local parks on the first weekend of June to walk in solidarity and raise awareness within their community.

Organise your own March for Men

Donate Now

Got questions? We’re here to help.

Email us if you have any questions or need any more information, we’re here to help. You can also check out our handy FAQs.

Get in touch

Man Of Men Screen

Contact Us

Our dedicated team are here to answer your questions. Drop us an email and we’ll be happy to help.

Email us

Tuktuk Day 95

Kempston Rovers

Goalmouth Action – Kempston Rovers v Aylesbury United

It’s Sunday so it must be Darren Ashley’s latest tour. This week he is at Kempston for a BIG match. To remind you, Darren chooses one match per week where he looks to spotlight the best of non-league football. If you do a search of this site you will see his latest trips and links to his YouTube channel. You can subscribe at no cost and see all his previous games.

He says, ” Yesterday, I travelled to Bedfordshire to watch a vital match at the bottom of the Southern League Division 1 Central match between Kempston Rovers & Aylesbury United.

Now, the home side were 5 points adrift of safety with 4 to play so it was MUST WIN for them really, whereas, the away team were 5 point clear of the drop, so, for them, it was MUST NOT LOSE.

On arrival, my daughter and I were warmly met and were treated brilliantly by all at Kempston Rovers, which I can’t thank them enough for, but, for this review, I want to give my thoughts regarding the respective managers.

Firstly, I sought out Kempston manager Richard Keil, as I had got in touch with him regarding filming the vlog.

He was a great guy, and despite the pressure of the impending match, he gave me plenty of time.

We had a joke where, I mentioned that his name was the same as the actor who played the baddie Jaws in the James Bond films, and if his team won, I already had a title of my video in mind.

After a quick on camera interview, it was time to try to meet Aylesbury manager David Tuttle. Once again, he was a great guy. We had a good laugh off-camera, then we did a quick interview.

After the interview’s, the managers and I were chatting, and I assumed they knew each other pretty well, as they had an easy way with each other.

The managers pre match. David Tuttle on left. Richard Keil on right

So, the match comes, and goes, and, for once, I will give a spoiler….it finished Kempston 0-5 Aylesbury….which, now makes it almost certain Kempston will go down and Aylesbury will survive. As the teams and management walk off, I noticed Richard went back to the dugout on his own to just sit, and, I guess, ponder and think about what he had witnessed.

It was then I decided I wouldn’t ask for a post match interview with him.

Not long after, David came out, walked across the pitch and went and sat with Richard for a few minutes. I thought that was real classy from him.

They came back off the pitch together, and, now, I was certain they were mates from way back as there seemed a real decent bond, but, to my complete surprise, when I spoke to them again, they had only met once at the previous encounter between the 2 teams, which was David’s first match.

It was such a decent thing to see on, what was a crappy day for the home side, and honestly, these two fellas really are representing the teams clubs brilliantly, and, i just wouldn’t be surprised somewhere down the line they may end up a management duo ( you heard it here first.)

One final thing, Richard dropped me a line in the evening, thanking me for coming and apologising for not chatting much after the match due to how he was feeling…he had no need to apologise, he was great.

….oh, if you fancy watching the vlog ( it’s a bit longer than usual), as always, it’s in the comment.”

Thanks Darren, sounds like another great day. Always fantastic to see how well you are received. It truly showers the power of Non-League football. Fantastic. Darren pinged me earlier to ensure I recognised Kempston’s chairman. “I first met the Kempston chairman Steve Brookes yesterday whilst he was operating a turnstile . Another top bloke, who supplied everything I needed with a smile although he was clearly gutted at the end of the day with the result.” Hope it’s the beginning of a new era for all. It’s not a crime to go down, it’s a crime to stay down, Mr Brookes. Good luck. Tuttle?!? Yes, the former Spurs, Millwall, Palace player. Wondered where he was.

Sadly FC Deportivo Galicia did not have a game yesterday but the other results pretty much worked in our favour so that’s a boost as we go off to London Colney on Tuesday. Promotion via the playoffs is still on the cards whilst the home team are fighting to stay in the division. It will be a new ground for me but my enthusiasm is tempered in the knowledge that it is in the middle of nowhere somewhere near St Albans so it’s looking like a midnight return. Let’s see!

How can you help the club? Well, please kindly remember that the purpose of this 90 day challenge is to raise funds for my local club and an equal amount for Prostate Cancer. As always, I HOPE you are all enjoying the tour of the UK and that you will consider a donation to support FC Deportivo Galicia and/or Prostate Cancer UK If everybody chipped in with just £1 I would easily hit my target of £10,000 and life would be easier in West London whilst the charity could continue their great work. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can. If you can’t please consider sharing this site on Twitter/FB or wherever and if you want me to feature your club, kit, team etc just ping me. Thanks in advance.

Tuktuk Day 94

I thought it was time to remind everybody why I am doing this digital tuktuk tour. It is a twofold objective. To raise money and awareness for Prostate Cancer UK and FC Deportivo Galicia.

So, rather than me try to explain, I am copying an email I got from them today.

“Hi Steve,

Without your support, we simply couldn’t continue to give men and their families affected by prostate cancer the information and support they need. The sad truth is, every ten minutes at least one man is diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK.  

A prostate cancer diagnosis can be daunting. Men are often bombarded with information and asked to make difficult, life-changing decisions.  

Our Specialist Nurses work hard to empower those who get in touch by providing all the free, unbiased, confidential support they need to make confident choices for themselves.  

£20 could fund one of our Specialist Nurses for one hour. Will you help give men and their loved ones the power, the support and the information they need to navigate prostate cancer?

YES, I’LL HELP

Last year, our in-house team of expert Specialist Nurses were there for men and their families almost 14,000 times, giving people the time they needed to talk and ask questions.

‘I would never have got through this. But perhaps more importantly, my wife, my daughters would not have got through it without Prostate Cancer UK and the Specialist Nursing team.’ Gary Davis, Prostate Cancer UK Supporter

If you can spare just £20, our team could be there for men and their loved ones after a prostate cancer diagnosis and through whatever comes next.

Please donate today so that we can listen, answer questions and support people trying to navigate prostate cancer.

Thank you.”

Chiara De Biase
Director of Support & Influencing
Prostate Cancer UK

P.S. If you or your loved one are concerned about prostate cancer or a prostate problem, we’re here for you. Talk through any questions or concerns with our Specialist Nurses over the phone, email or our online chat.