Intrepid Beccles cyclists complete Premier League challenge

Mark O'Donnell and Robert Crisp as they complete their challenge outside Norwich City's football ground. Mark O'Donnell and Robert Crisp as they complete their challenge outside Norwich City's football ground.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
9:28 AM

It is not a route Norwich City fans will be following for the next 12 months, but two Beccles football coaches have successfully pedalled their way around all 20 Premier League football grounds, making it back to Carrow Road in time for the last game of the season.

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The 1,060 mile journey saw Mark O’Donnell and Robert Crisp battling wind, rain and sunshine as they visited all six London clubs before cycling around the rest of the country, racing against the clock to complete their challenge in 11 days.

The men, who run Beccles Caxton Football Club’s Under-19s team, are raising money towards the £40,000 floodlights needed for their pitch, and reached Carrow Road at midday on Sunday, ahead of City’s final game of the season against Arsenal.

Mr O’Donnell said: “Arriving in Norwich brought a little tear to our eyes. It gave us a huge sense of achievement and relief and it was nice to see some familiar faces waiting for us.

“We were quite lucky with the weather. We had two days of solid rain and one day the wind was blowing so hard it blew us into a ditch, but apart from that it was fine.

“The worst part of our journey was biking around Wales because the hills felt more like mountains, but the easiest part had to be when we were cycling the last 60 miles back to Norwich.”

The men have already raised around £4,000 towards the floodlights and are expecting to collect more sponsorship now they are back home.

Caxton Football Club has its own pitch, stand and changing rooms, but the floodlights are needed to allow the club to start up an Under-18s team next season, which would play in a midweek league in the evenings.

Mr O’Donnell said: “Everywhere we stopped for a coffee people were asking us how far we had come and were really interested and supportive when we told them what we were doing. We picked up sponsorship along the way and we received loads of messages on Facebook which gave us a big boost.”

The pair went into the receptions of all 20 grounds and were given stadium tours at Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Hull, and Cardiff. They were also invited by The Football Association to stop off at St George’s Park training centre.

Mr O’Donnell said: “All the clubs gave us programmes to keep, but we had to post them back home because our rucksacks were getting a bit heavy!”

Norwich City slipped out of the Premier League after finishing in the bottom three, along with Fulham and Cardiff City, but could be visited by the duo again if they plan a cycling trip around the Championship clubs next season.

Anyone who would like to sponsor the men can drop into the Beccles and Bungay Journal office in Blyburgate, Beccles Caxton Club in Gaol Lane, or call Mr O’Donnell on 07919 373110.

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