Sheffield United fan to cycle to every Premier League away game for much-loved city charity
A Sheffield United fan who vowed to cycle to every away game if the Blades ever got back into the Premier League is appealing for people to get behind his challenge in aid of a much-loved city charity.
James Kemp, aged 51, of Apperknowle, made the promise after seeing his beloved Blades suffer a chastening 4-0 defeat on the first day of the 2015-2016 season at Gillingham.
James said at the time the prospect of top flight football seemed a world away, but - thanks to Chris Wilder’s transformation of the club - he is having to come good on his long-standing commitment.
“I've done some crazy challenges but I this will be the hardest yet,” he said.
“I never thought we’d get back to the Premier League in my time but when it actually happened I decided I might as well do it for a decent cause.”
James undertook the first leg of his mammoth journey last week, taking three days to cycle the 240 miles to Bounemouth before coming back to Sheffield on the train.
His next few trips will see him travel to Chelsea on August 31 and Everton on September 21, before he then has to make three consecutive trips to the capital in October and November.
“There are not too many close ones,” said James.
“I think I must have been the only Blade to want Leeds to go up. The nearest one is Man City.”
“The body was absolutely fine after the cycling but I did cut my shin open celebrating Billy Sharp’s goal!”
Throughout his challenge, James will be raising funds for Sheffield Children’s Hospital, and has set himself a target of £5,000.
His journey will see him travel 3,500 miles in total, more than one and a half times the distance of the 2019 Tour De France - a race which took the world’s best cyclists three weeks to complete.
“I’m on a touring bike and I try to stick to the ‘B’ roads where possible but the main problem is going to be the weather,” he says.
“I’m not really looking forward to Brighton the Saturday before Christmas. I think I might take four days to do that one.”
James’ background is in architecture but he is now semi-retired and in his spare time does cycling challenges with friends including one riding across America in 2016 and another cycling event from the UK to the Algarve last year.
Abbie Pervin, regional fundraising manager at the Children’s Hospital Charity added: “It’s really inspiring to hear about James’ challenge and his commitment to cycle across the country, following his beloved Blades, for the young patients at our hospital.
“Every pedal and penny raised throughout the season will help build a new Emergency Department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital for children from across South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire who depend on its excellent care.”
To find out more about James’ challenge or contribute to his fund, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/james-kemp1889.