Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling is lacing up his walking boots again to take on 15 marathons in 15 days, his March for Men.
Here, in his regular column for Prostate Cancer UK, Jeff looks ahead to the EFL Cup final, a trip to Manchester United in June and welcomes a video of support by a legendary striker.
The great and the good - and Matt Le Tissier - will gather at Wembley this weekend for the first cup final of the season.
While Southampton have surprised many in reaching the final, not conceding a goal in the process, Tiss looks like the cat that’s got the cream.
Saints were great value for their semi-final win against Liverpool, and their route to the final has been far from easy. They’ve beaten three other Premier League sides, including Arsenal, and Jose Mourinho will not take them lightly.
As for Matt, I wonder if he thought he’d be back so soon when we marched up Wembley Way together at the end of last year’s march!
Talking of grand stages, while Wembley remains an iconic location for the dreamers like me – remember the only way I could get Hartlepool there was by walking last March – I’m very much looking forward to walking to the Theatre of Dreams on Day 7 of the march.
Thursday, June 8 is shaping up to be a cracking day as we leave Wigan Athletic and visit Bolton Wanderers and Old Trafford before ending the afternoon at the home of Manchester City.
Of course, United and City remain fierce rivals, but did you know three names synonymous with the city have also been affected by prostate cancer?
Denis Law and Mike Summerbee were teammates and rivals. They remain close friends, bonded by that history, and more recently by having been there for each other in their respective battles against the disease.
Sadly, the legendary Nobby Stiles remains stricken by prostate cancer and dementia. His house is a stone’s throw away from Old Trafford, so it's fitting that we will be in his back yard while helping shape a better future for men and their loved ones.
One final note on the EFL Cup final is the referee for Sunday’s showpiece, Andre Marriner.
He joined us on a soggy afternoon in the West Midlands last year, walking side by side with his dad Lester, who has been affected by the disease.
Andre and Lester Marriner at Birmingham City on Day 6 of Jeff's March
I jokingly told him joining us was the best decision he’d made all season. But joking aside, it emphasises how all-encompassing our little jaunt was last year. Andre’s not the only official to have been affected by a disease that does not discriminate, so let’s hope we can show prostate cancer the red card.
It’s been brilliant to hear the reaction of the public since we kicked off the 2017 challenge on Soccer Saturday at the end of January.
We are well into three figures already, and my prediction of a warm welcome in Newcastle was only heightened when I received a message of support from one of the finest players to ever wear the black and white stripes, Alan Shearer. And this weekend it's Prostate Cancer UK's designated match day at St James' Park, so hopefully we'll get a few more Geordies signed up to walk with me on the final day of my 400 mile marathon. He'll probably have an eye on the EFL Cup Final as well being a former Saint.
I’ve also heard from international sportsmen across rugby union, rugby league, cricket and football who are keen to support. New BDO darts world champion Glen Durrant - like me, a proud North-Eastern native and a big Middlesbrough fan to boot - will join us when we head to the Riverside. Stay tuned for some more big announcements over the coming weeks.