As recently announced, Barnsley FC are supporting the 2015 London to Amsterdam Challenge in aid of Prostate Cancer UK, and we currently looking for groups of friends to represent the Reds in a star-studded peloton cycling from Leyton Orient FC to Dutch giants Ajax!
As preparation for the event gets underway, Prostate Cancer UK recently spoke to new #MenUnited signing, former Ireland international Matt Holland about the London to Amsterdam Challenge 2015, his own favourite European footballing moments, and his career in journalism. So Matt, you are taking on the London to Amsterdam Challenge in 2015. Tell us about your previous European experience? And what do you think you can bring to the team?
"I’ve got some great memories of European football. As a player I’ll never forget when Ipswich hosted AC Milan and we beat them 1-0 with an Alun Armstrong header. And as a fan you can’t look beyond the dramatic Champion’s League final in 1999 when Manchester United came back from the dead and won it 2 -1 against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp. They scored two goals in added time and that was just frightening.
As for the London to Amsterdam Challenge, this cycling event is a new challenge for me but something I’m really looking forward to. I’ll bring some leadership to the talkSPORT team and it will be great to join some familiar faces in what’s sure to be a fun few days."
You now work in the media, on the radio and on TV. How have you enjoyed the transition and which of your peers do you most respect and enjoy working with?
"I love doing what I’m doing now. I found the transition difficult, particularly the first six months. I was used to being very regimented in what I do with the football side of things. There, you knew what you were doing day-to-day and week-to-week. Doing what I’m doing now can be very varied. I don’t have a particular schedule; it can change at any time. That was difficult, initially, but I’ve got used to that now. In terms of the peers, crikey, I would pick out Adrian Durham. People will laugh at me for saying that because of the reputation he’s got, but I don’t think there’s anyone that works harder in terms of watching football and knowledge of individuals and teams. I honestly think he does a lot of work in terms of making his show the best so I really think he deserves a mention. In terms of ex-pros I like listening to Graham Souness. I think he has a very good knowledge of the game and the way he comes across is very good; he holds himself brilliantly. Alvin Martin and Danny Murphy on talkSPORT are both very good as well. I’m also a big fan of Gary Neville’s punditry so there’s a few."
Talking of punditry, what does the second half of the Football League season hold for your old clubs?
"I tipped Bournemouth at the start of the season and everyone laughed at me. Last year some of the football they played was outstanding and Eddie [Howe] got together a really good squad. I must admit I worried a little bit when Lewis Grabban was sold at the start of the season, but to bring in Callum Wilson was a masterstroke. He’s been superb as well and has played his way into the England U21 squad now too. Some of the football they play is out of this world and I honestly think they are guaranteed to be in the top six in the Championship and could even do better. As for Ipswich, under Mick [McCarthy], they are so difficult to beat and excellent defensively. They are one of the hardest working teams you will come up against and the mental attitude of the squad is absolutely top drawer. I think they will finish in the top six as well. I’d like to say Charlton would join them both, but I think they might just miss out. I’m not sure they have the strength in depth of the other two. So I’d tip them to finish in the top half of the table but just outside the play-offs."
The London to Amsterdam Challenge is Prostate Cancer UK’s end of season Football League fundraiser. On Friday 12 June 2015, over 200 riders from across The Football League will join Matt Holland, Luther Blissett and Terry Butcher on the starting line at Leyton Orient FC riding 145 miles to the Amsterdam ArenA the home of the Dutch giants, Ajax on Saturday 13 June 2015 before celebrating with a night out in Amsterdam.
In June 2014, 150 represents from across The Football League raised over £200,000 for Prostate Cancer UK.