Former Teammate's Marathon Effort For Speed
Written by Newcastle Utd
Newcastle United FC
Matt Jones, who played with ex-United star Gary Speed at international level, is fundraising in his memory
A teammate of former Newcastle United midfielder Gary Speed is fundraising for charity in his memory.
Matt Jones, from Llanelli, played with Speed in the Welsh national side, and to raise money for good causes he will be running a half marathon around the pitch at Swansea City's Liberty Stadium ahead of Newcastle United's Premier League game there on Friday.
And it is not the only fundraising activity Matt has undertaken or has planned. His own football career was cut short by a spinal injury and he was already planning to run the London Marathon to raise funds for the Spinal Injuries Association when Speed died last year.
Matt was so devastated by the news that he vowed to increase his fund-raising efforts in tribute to his friend and is now also raising funds for the John Hartson Foundation and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation - two charities which Gary supported.
"I'm dedicating this year to Gary's memory and doing whatever I can to raise money for charity," said ex-Leeds and Leicester City midfielder Jones.
"I was completely shocked by Gary's death and I want to do something to show much he meant to me and to help causes which I know meant a lot to him.
"Gary ran the London Marathon for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and I like to think I'm picking up the work he started."
Matt has already run half marathons around the pitch at Leicester and Leeds, ran in the Llanelli half marathon and ran a marathon ahead of the recent international match between Wales and Costa Rica, which ended on the pitch.
He added: "The marathon was a major achievement for me. I was so proud to get a big hug off Gary's mum when I finished. She said she thought he would be very proud of me and honestly, hearing that, I could have gone back out there and ran another 26 miles.
"It's hard doing the running around a football pitch. Depending on the ground, it's about 68 laps for the half marathon. It's not easy keeping turning all the time and I've developed a sore knee as a result. Physically it's hard but mentally I can do this because I know it's for Gary.
"Something that I learnt from him was that the majority of us are born without a natural gift and we all have to work our socks off to gain anything. As I've grown older I've seen further into Gaz's meaning.
"Gary was someone who certainly proved this in his playing career and later in his coaching and managerial careers. Now I want to prove that I can do this. I've set my goals and I will work hard to reach my target.
"Thanks to everyone who has already made a contribution regardless of how small it is. Every penny counts and I really do appreciate it."
Matt has already raised over £4,000 and his target is £10,000 to divide between the Spinal Injuries Association, the John Hartson Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
In addition to Friday's half marathon at Swansea and the London Marathon, he plans to run up and down Snowdonia (the highest mountain in Wales), host a fund-raising dinner, do a 24 hour static bike ride at a local Tesco and deliver each cheque in person to the three charities by bike.
To make a donation, please visit www.justgiving.com/mattjones7
Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in 2008 and it has gone on to raised £4,095,264 to help find more effective treatments for cancer.
The charity funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria - including the clinical trials of drugs at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle - and which contribute significantly to international efforts and research into fighting the disease.