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Dons march to Wembley

14 April 2016

AFC Wimbledon team completed charity walk for Prostate Cancer UK

Our Commercial Executive Pietro Palladino endured a much earlier start than usual and felt the effects of a gruelling 26.2-mile walk, but it was an unforgettable experience for him to take part in “Jeff’s March” recently.

 .Prostate Cancer UKPietro (middle in picture) was part of an AFC Wimbledon team joining Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling on his charity walk in aid of 

O'Donnell and Roy Oliver on the walk that took in football grounds around London, before finishing at Wembley (see gallery pictures above). Pietro was joined by Kevin Webber, Rob Woodward, John Bothamley, Matthew Breach, Mark

Below Pietro takes us through an action-packed day in his own words.

I arrived at the club at 6.00 am to ensure all 70 walkers and a further 25-30 Dons fans joining us for a full breakfast were on course and ready for 7.00 am. All was ready to go; the PCUK guys came and set up their registration stations and the big inflatable start position was in place. A briefing from Jeff Stelling himself to remind us why we are putting ourselves through this provided the motivation needed, and then at 8.00 am we were off!

Having previously looked up the route, it looked like quite a nice one, which would mean walking primarily by the river and dipping in and out of main London streets. This would be my first (and potentially last) ‘Walking Marathon’, but at least I can say I’ve joined the “Marathon Clan” (sort of any way!) I was also entrusted to update the official AFCW Twitter account, something I was honoured to do, and nervous at not messing anything up!

The early route was this side of the river, down the Thames path and over Richmond Bridge, before we approached Brentford’s stadium and we were cheered as we went through their front gates. Here we were joined by Matthew Le Tissier and the Brentford first team manager Gary Smith. After a short 20-minute break, we were back on the road on the way to Fulham.

The route taken now led us to be walking on the opposite side of the stadium alongside the Thames. The most gutting feeling about this was walking along the Thames but on the opposite side to the Stadium. No matter how horrible the Thames is (and who knows what’s in it!), the thought of swimming across, or even better, jumping in a canoe to save a further few miles was so tempting! Following some serious thought and consideration, walking the full route was the end decision! It was at this time, I started having trouble with my right ankle and foot. Every other part of the body was fine, but the right ankle was starting to feel my exertions. I knew from then on it would be Nurofen and anything else I could have to get me through the journey. There was no way I was quitting!

The arrival at Fulham FC meant we were just over half way through our route. It was noticeable that quite a few people were visibly in discomfort as stretching, change of clothing and footwear were going on. After a few rounds of lunch and a chance to catch up with other people on the walk, it was time to head to Stamford Bridge. Here we were welcomed in via a guard of honour from their staff, other tourists visiting, and one very enthusiastic staff member who was almost running after us as he clapped and cheered us on! We went through to pitch side and relaxed in the stands for a mini- briefing, before having Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth join us for the leg to QPR.

The journey to QPR from Chelsea took us through Shepherds Bush and passed Westfields Shopping Centre, though with no time to shop (unfortunately) with a schedule to follow and it was onto Loftus Road. This was the final stop before Wembley so it was the last opportunity to stock up on some snacks to see us through. We were joined by Les Ferdinand and Andy Sinton, and it proved to be the most difficult leg out of them all. Perhaps we were not helped by the fact we walked along the Grand Union so not the most scenic route. We could constantly see the Wembley Arch, but we knew we still had a fair way to go before reaching it our ultimate goal.

Eventually we all arrived at Wembley, and we were greeted by a huge crowd of people. We had done it!!

After being greeted by friends and families, we were led into the stadium and pitch side before making the walk up the famous Wembley Steps to receive our medals. A memory that will stay with me for a very long time! All in all, a great day to go for a 26.2 mile walk, representing AFC Wimbledon, and raising money and awareness for Prostate Cancer. Same time next year…?!


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