When Carlton Palmer phoned The Star office last week, he spoke with refreshing forthrightness: “your newspaper,” the Sheffield Wednesday legend said, “has stitched me up more times than I can remember and I never complain. Now I want you to publish me some good news...”
Well, you can’t argue with that, can you? Especially when it’s a 6ft3 athlete you’re speaking to.
So, today, The Diary – atoning for, among other things, the columnist who once wondered if The Big P was the worst midfielder ever to play for England – exclusively reveals he’s to launch his very own 10km charity run in the city.
Bless the big (hearted) fella.
“Footballers are painted as bad guys so often by the press,” he says pointedly, perhaps referring to a not altogether complimentary interview with his ex-wife we once ran on the front page. “But we’re the first to get our hands in our pockets and organise things like this.”
The idea for the run came about after fans noticed Carlton – who played 227 matches for Wednesday between 1989 and 1994 and again in 2001 – had taken to running around Dore where he lives. They started tweeting him banter. One, David Turner, a partner with city solicitors Irwin Mitchell, eventually asked why he didn’t organise a race for charity. He decided to do it.
Now, he’s hoping more than 250 runners, joggers and walkers will pound the route around Whirlow and Dore in aid of Sheffield’s own Cavendish Cancer Care. It will take place onNovember 24 at 10am, starting and finishing at The Rising Sun pub in Abbey Lane.
“And we’ll be sticking round for a beer after,” says Carlton, who promises fellow Wednesday legends Chris Waddle and Chris Woods will be there. “At the pub, if not on the run,” he adds quickly.
The 47-year-old himself, meanwhile, will be around the city more often again for the next year or so. He’s spent the last five years swapping his time between here and Dubai, where he worked as a school coach and TV pundit. But he now wants to spend time back in Sheffield with wife Lucy.
“I loved Sheffield from the moment I came here,” says the father-of-three. “Dubai’s nice but this is home. It’s felt like that ever since I came here from West Brom all those years ago. I don’t see me ever leaving.”
Race costs £15. Details at www.cavcaree.org.uk