Leeds football mates to march for Prostate Cancer UK after four players diagnosed with disease
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Former manager Howard Smith was diagnosed with the most common cancer in men after his teammate - who had also been affected - spotted the signs of the disease.
The Cookridge Rangers FC alumni, who have been friends for more than 50 years, are set to march together next month to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK.
Ex-goalkeeper Glyn Jones, 65, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2015.
Then, at a reunion event with his former teammates, he spotted signs of the disease during a chat with jack-of-all-trades manager Howard.
Glyn said: "Shortly after I had my prostate removed in September 2015, we all met for a reunion.
"In that scenario there are two types of guys - those who ask how you are and then follow up with ‘do you want a beer’, and those who ask more than two questions and dig a bit deeper.
"You wonder if any of those might have it, or if they are worried about it, and Howard was one of those.
"We talked for a long time about my situation and what I’d been through and when I got home I remember saying to my wife, ‘I think he might have prostate cancer’.
"So I rang him and asked if he was okay and it all flowed from there.”
After the call from his former teammate, Howard, 65, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2016.
He opened up to his former keeper about his condition and hailed the support from him - and the rest of his friends at the club - following the devastating news.
“The lads showed up, it’s as simple as that,” Howard said
"When we played, what made us special was we were never the best but we were always there for each other.”
He’s since paid that support forward after two other squad members were diagnosed with prostate cancer - former left-back Arthur Bateson, 68, and ex treasurer and club secretary Brian Locke, 63.
The four men will join thousands of people walking across the UK this June in the return of Prostate Cancer UK’s March for Men walking events – including one at Roundhay Park in Leeds on Father’s Day, June 19.
Ahead of the fourth March for Men walk, the duo gathered at Roundhay Park to showcase a bold blue branded bench for Prostate Cancer UK, remembering those affected by prostate cancer.
Etched onto the striking seat are the names of Howard and Glyn, with the duo posing alongside it to help promote the upcoming march.
They were joined by long-time teammates and pals Steve Wilson, Mick Gamble, Steve Webster and Gary Milner.
Prostate cancer affects one in eight men in the UK - thousands of dads, grandads, partners, brothers, uncles, sons and mates.
“It’s so important for blokes to understand it can happen to YOU," Howard said.
"The walk highlights this and gives me the opportunity to get around them all to ensure they are all aware of their risk."
Glyn added: "Prostate cancer isn’t just about people who die, it’s about how groups of good mates come through it together.
“It’s changed my life and my perspective on life.
"When you’ve had a scare that could have ended in dire circumstances, you realise you are a mere mortal and not impervious to this.
"The more you look around, the more you start to see people affected. I’m grateful I’m still around and am happy to give up my time to come.
"It’s also lovely to talk to other people about the journey that they’ve been on.”
Widow of Leeds man to join Roundhay Park March for Men
A community of walkers, including the Cookridge clan, will complete the fully-accessible 2.5km or 10km distance routes around Roundhay Park, marching for their loved ones and raising money to help fund lifesaving research into better treatments and tests to beat prostate cancer.
There are 4,178 men living with prostate cancer in Leeds and Tina Pinder will walk to honour her late husband Lloyd, joined by her two daughters.
Lloyd was a tireless campaigner and supporter of Prostate Cancer UK. His name is also engraved on the bench.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen it, and it's lovely,” said Tina,as she sat with Lloyd’s name behind her.
“We try not to be sad - that’s hard sometimes - and stuff like this makes me smile.
"That legacy, the awareness and fundraising, and his name still being out there, would have made him very happy.
"The March for Men is such a brilliant way for us all to remember and celebrate him, particularly on Father’s Day."
Leeds residents are invited to join the community of marchers at Roundhay Park, coming together to share stories and experiences, march for loved ones and help save lives.
Sign up for the Leeds March for Men here