One decade ago, in 2009, Steve Prescott MBE was given the honour of delivering the match ball to Wembley Stadium for the Challenge Cup Final between Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves – after a typically gruelling challenge taking him and a group of like-minded heroes overland from Perpignan in the south of France, as part of his awe-inspiring efforts to raise money for the Steve Prescott Foundation.
Now in the summer of 2019, his 17-year-old son Taylor is ready to lead a repeat mission.
Joined by some of the same familiar faces who joined his dad in 2009 – including Steve’s former St Helens team-mates Chris Joynt and Chris Smith – Taylor will confront an 865-mile bike ride, followed by a punishing 26-mile journey up the River Thames from Windsor Castle to Teddington Lock in a Dragon Boat.
Finally they will run a half marathon from RAF Uxbridge to arrive at Wembley on Saturday August 24 – just in time for the Coral Challenge Cup Final.
Taylor will then complete the Challenge Wembley 2019 by delivering the Match Ball and placing it down in time for Kick Off – exactly as his dad did 10 years earlier.
“I am honoured to be in a position to continue my dad’s legacy,” Taylor explained.
“My dad was passionate about everything he did and the charity was extremely important to him. I have seen my mum and incredible supporters of the charity continue the great work and helping those less fortunate - and I want to do my bit.
“My dad told me the ‘Carnegie Challenge’ of 2009 was the hardest but best challenge he took on. I have a lot of work to do on strengthening my legs, improving my cycling and learning how to paddle in a dragon boat - but I am looking forward to that challenge. I would like to thank everyone involved with the Coral Challenge Cup for allowing me to take to the Wembley pitch and place the Match Ball.”
Ralph Rimmer, the Chief Executive of the Rugby Football League, said: “Steve was a special person, and it’s becoming increasingly evident that Taylor is a chip off the old block. His father has left an incredible legacy, transforming the adversity of his illness into a life-changing charity, and it’s humbling to see Taylor committing himself in the same way, at such a young age.
“We are honoured at the RFL that the sport of Rugby League is represented so inspirationally by Steve, Taylor and everyone else involved in the Foundation, and in this latest Challenge. Having them with us at Wembley Stadium on August 24, for the Coral Challenge Cup Final and the first 1895 Cup Final, will be an honour – and it goes without saying that we were delighted to grant the request for Taylor to deliver the match ball, as Steve did a decade ago.”
Others who have signed up to support Taylor include Mike Denning, the Chairman of the Steve Prescott Foundation, and also Jimmy Gittins from the RFL Benevolent Fund.
There are still 12 of the 30 places available – anyone interested in joining the Challenge, or offering sponsorship, should contact email@example.com, or contact Martin on 07971 792859.
“It’s incredible that the original Challenge was ten years ago,” said Chris Joynt, the former Saints captain. “It seems like yesterday. Sadly Steve will not be riding with us but will be there in spirit. It is great to see Taylor following in Steve’s footsteps, with the desire to continue the great man’s legacy.”
For anyone who wishes to support the Challenge but cannot take part then the Foundation will have a limited number of tickets for the Coral Challenge Cup Final at Wembley where you will be able to sit with those that have completed the challenge. These tickets will be offered as part of a special deal under which £5 of the ticket price will be donated by the RFL to the Steve Prescott Foundation. Details of this will be available from the Foundation shortly.
Steve Prescott MBE was diagnosed with a rare abdominal cancer, pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP) in 2006 and formed the SPF in 2007 to raise funds for and awareness of the Rugby League Benevolent Fund and The Christie in Manchester. Steve undertook many physically and mentally exhausting challenges during his illness to raise funds and awareness of the charities close to his heart. In October 2013 he underwent a pioneering, first in the world, multi visceral transplant of the small bowel, pancreas, stomach, duodenum and abdominal wall at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford and although this procedure eradicated the cancer, Steve passed away a few weeks later due to post operation complications.
The SPF and Steve’s legacy has continued to grow and the SPF have donated just short of £1.5 Million to their chosen charities.
The Itinerary for Challenge 2019 is as follows:
11th Fly To Perpignan, the home of Catalans Dragons, the Challenge Cup holders
12th Aug Perpignan to Carcassonne - 65 Miles
13th Aug Carcassonne to Montauban – 95 Miles
14th Aug Montauban to Sarlat La Caneda – 82 Miles
15th Aug Sarlat La Caneda to Limoges – 82 Miles
16th Aug Limoges to Chateauroux – 75 Miles
17th Aug Chateauroux to Blois – 66 Miles
18th Aug Blois to Rouen – 63 Miles
19th Aug Rouen to Chartres – 88 Miles
20th Aug Chartres to Abbeville – 63 Miles
21st Aug Abbeville to Dover – 70 Miles
22nd Aug Dover to Windsor Castle – 111 Miles
23rd Aug Dragon boat Windsor to Teddington Lock 26 Miles
24th Aug Half Marathon RAF Uxbridge to Wembley