The East Midlands derby between Nottingham Forest and Derby County is always a heated affair, but one fan decided to reach across the divide with a 20-mile fundraising run between the two clubs' grounds in aid of Prostate Cancer UK. We find out how one tweet led to £8,000, a 100-strong running club and the (probable) approval of Brian Clough.
Little did Nottingham Forest fan Des Oldham know that the first East Midlands derby of the season would take on even greater significance than it usually does.
"It’s overwhelming really," reflects Des (pictured below, middle), before presenting a cheque for more than £8,000 to Prostate Cancer UK beside the pitch at the City Ground last month.
"To think what started as a personal thing talked about between a few friends became something massive because of a tweet and a few conversations. I’m really proud of what we’ve managed to achieve."
And so he should be. After discussing the idea of creating a 20-mile run from Nottingham to Derby with a few friends, Des published a tweet that eventually drew a team of 30 people to run from Nottingham to Derby on a cold, rainy Saturday night, raising the four-figure sum to help beat prostate cancer.
The date coincided with the first Forest/Derby game of the season on 11 December at Derby County’s iPro Stadium. And the route the team of Derby and Forest fans ran followed public footpaths from the City Ground to the stadium, passing along the Brian Clough Way and taking in statues of Ol' Big Head in both cities.
For those not in the know, Clough turned both Derby County and then Nottingham Forest from minnows to footballing masters in the 1970s and 80s and is much revered by both cities to this day.
"We had two aims when we set out," says Des. "We wanted to highlight the importance of such a worthwhile charity, and show unity from the passionate supporters of both teams.
"Prostate Cancer UK use the slogan Men United. We wanted to unite both sets of fans by building relationships, while raising awareness and funds, and also achieving something great as individuals."
But the team didn't just stop at one run. In fact, they've now grown to more than a hundred members that Des leads on a run every Wednesday night from the City Ground.
I want this running group to be for everyone, regardless of how far they can run or who they support
"I’ve found running clubs I’ve joined in the past difficult," says Des. "Cliques form and it isn’t easy to interact.
"I want this running group to be for everyone, regardless of how far they can run or who they support. I just want it to be fun and people to get something out of it."
From a tweet to a Trent-side running club, raising an amazing amount for charity? "Very well done, young man," as Ol' Big Head might have said.