Beccles football coaches prepare for premier challenge

Mark O'Donnell and Robert Crisp (orange top) from Beccles Caxton Football Club are planning to cycle to all 20 Premiership Football grounds to raise funds for new floodlights. Mark O'Donnell and Robert Crisp (orange top) from Beccles Caxton Football Club are planning to cycle to all 20 Premiership Football grounds to raise funds for new floodlights.

Amy Smith amy.smith@archant.co.uk
Friday, January 10, 2014
6:30 AM

Two Beccles football coaches will be cycling 1,100 miles in 11 days around 20 Premier League grounds to help raise £40,000 to buy floodlights for their pitch.

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Mark O’Donnell, 43, and Robert Crisp, 40, have been running youth football teams in Beccles and Bungay for 10 years and now run Beccles Caxton Football Club’s under-19s team.

But with the hope of launching an under-18s team next season, which would play in a midweek league, both men are desperate to raise money to buy floodlights to allow their teams to play in the evenings.

Mr O’Donnell said: “We’ve got our own pitch, stand and changing rooms but we desperately need floodlights.

“Caxton have got two senior teams who use the pitch on Saturdays but we want to start an under-18s team who would play in a local midweek league.

“That won’t be possible unless we’ve got a floodlit pitch where they can play.

“We want to set up an under-18s team to bridge the gap between the junior teams and the senior teams.

“Some boys have got the build for adult football but 95pc of them don’t and without anywhere else to play they just give up which affects Caxton FC and Beccles Town FC too.”

The friends will be starting their challenge on May 1 in Hull and will finish at Norwich City’s ground in Carrow Road on their last game of the season when they take on Arsenal. Mr O’Donnell said: “We have both bought decent bikes so we can take it seriously and raise as much money as possible.

“We have been going to the gym a couple of times a week and have been going out on our bikes when we can.

“The fitter we are the more we can enjoy it.”

Beccles Caxton FC, which will be celebrating its 125th anniversary next year, has already raised about £1,000 through its Boxing Day dip at Lowestoft, and has also received a grant of £1,000 from Suffolk County Council’s locality budget to go towards the floodlights.

Sponsorship forms for anyone who would like to donate are available at Beccles Caxton Club in Gaol Lane, and anyone who would be interested in joining the pair on their challenge is welcome to contact Mr O’Donnell on 07919 373110.

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