One family, two football teams…it could have been a recipe for domestic disaster when a young Ritchie Humphreys signed to play for Sheffield Wednesday even though dad John was a lifelong Sheffield United fan.
Throughout his sporting career Ritchie would go on to play with Scunthorpe, Cardiff, Cambridge, Hartlepool, Port Vale and Chesterfield, also winning five caps for England at under-20 and under-21 levels.
While always supporting his son, dad John remained loyal to United, though, and following his death at St Luke’s at the end of a long fight with Mesothelioma, Ritchie decided that fundraising for our patient care should have a Sheffield United theme.
Which is why on June 23 Ritchie, who is now the Players’ Union rep with the Professional Football Association, will be joined by friends James Goddard, Wayne Morton and Dave Palmer for a five-day, 500-mile cycle challenge that will see them visit all the stadiums where John saw his beloved United win promotion in 1982, 1989 and 1990.
And the aim is to raise more than £20,000 to ensure that other families receive the same levels of support that John received during his time as a St Luke’s patient.
The challenge will start at Sheffield United and then go on to St Luke’s itself before heading to Wolverhampton and Leicester before coming back to Sheffield and then heading off to Darlington – where the original stadium is now a supermarket – and Hartlepool.
To add an extra United flavour to the adventure, the quartet will also be wearing the kits the United players wore at each historic victory.
“Dad was in St Luke’s for just five days but they were five days that meant so much to the family,” Ritchie says.
“It was a time when me and my mum and my sister could all be together with dad again and that was so important because it gave us all the chance to say the things we needed to say.
“The people at St Luke’s were just amazing, so calm and so supportive – they didn’t just look after my dad, they looked after the whole family.
“As a family we will never be able to thank the amazing people at St Luke’s enough for the love and care they showed dad.
“Whilst sitting with dad in his final days, I wanted to think of a way to raise money and awareness for this brilliant charity.
“Then, when it began to look like Sheffield United were going to get promoted this season, that’s when the idea of visiting all the grounds where they had been promoted before started to take off.
“We’re visiting all the grounds where my dad saw Sheffield United gain promotion because that meant so much to him.”
To support Ritchie and the team visit Team Ritchie