The hottest weekend of the year has seen 23 members from Everton’s Supporters’ Club network complete the ‘Sligo to Goodison Cycle Challenge’, raising almost £40,000 in aid of ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’.
On Friday evening, the cycling party were joined by U23 manager David Unsworth and EitC Executive Chair Denise Barrett-Baxendale at their hotel in Sligo where they were given some words of encouragement for the challenge ahead and thanked for their hard work and commitment to the campaign and all enjoyed a pint of Guinness as a thank you from the Club!
With temperatures soaring into the mid-20s on both days, the 23-strong group of brave Blues from officially-affiliated Supporters’ Clubs from across the country completed the gruelling 230-mile cycle challenge in just over 36 hours, starting out from The Showgrounds, home of Sligo Rovers, at 7am on Saturday morning and arriving back at Goodison Park in convoy at 7.45pm on Sunday evening.
Departing from the club where Seamus Coleman made his name, the group cycled 130 miles across Ireland on Saturday, travelling through Leitrim Village, Coole and Trim before being welcomed into Dublin by their fellow Evertonians from the Irish Toffees Supporters Club where they rested up for a few hours before the 2am three-and-a-half-hour ferry journey back to Holyhead.
Touching down on Welsh soil saw the cyclists again mount their bikes for the second leg of the journey which would see them cover the 107 miles back to Goodison Park, journeying through Bangor, Rhyl and Birkenhead before catching the last ferry of the day across to Liverpool and completing the final stretch of the challenge and being welcomed back to Goodison en masse by David Unsworth, Ian Snodin, friends and family and EitC staff and supporters.
“It’s an incredible achievement,” said Unsworth, who set up ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ along with his Under-23 players last December. “They’ve only gone and done it on the hottest day of the year as well, which is even better. The camaraderie, the feeling of watching them all embrace at the end, it was just fantastic and I’ve been round to each and every one of them and told them that we’re proud of them.”
“I’m blown away by the amount that they’ve raised so far, who would have a thought that this campaign would gather so much momentum so quickly and capture the hearts of so many? I’m in awe of all of these cyclists and the support team who have been with them this weekend. They’ve done a sterling job and it’s a fantastic effort from everybody. We’re so close to the finishing line of our overall target of £230,000 and I can’t thank this group enough for their tremendous efforts.”
“I’m not surprised they did it, I knew they would and I knew the spirit they had on Friday night would get them through. They’re a great set of people, great Evertonians and we are all really, really proud of them.”
Cyclist Tasha Roks added: “We got the ferry over the Mersey toward the end and it was amazing. Just seeing the skyline with Goodison in the background it suddenly hit you and it was like, ‘wow, we’ve actually done it. Coming back into Goodison at the end all together was just amazing and I got really emotional.
“The support team were phenomenal and really kept us going. They were giving us constant updates along the way and really kept us going. There were times when I just wanted to stop but all the messages of support really helped to spur us on.”
The fantastic efforts of the 23-strong group and support party saw them raise almost £40,000 for the campaign with the aim of developing a supported living initiative for young people in Liverpool, delivered by Everton in the Community.
You can still donate to the cause by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/supporterscycle2017
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