Stephen Darby: Bolton duo Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin to undertake charity bike ride to raise funds for foundation

Bolton boss Phil Parkinson and assistant Steve Parkin will be part of a ten-man team taking part in a fundraising challenge to raise money for the Stephen Darby Foundation this weekend.

Darby announced his retirement from the professional game last September at the age of just 29, after sadly being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

The news understandably shell-shocked Darby and his family, with Parkinson, as well as assistant Steve Parkin, lending their support to the former Bolton, Liverpool and Blackburn defender.

They will set off in Workington on Friday, May 17 and will undergo a 136-mile ‘Coast to Coast’ bike ride to Tynemouth.

GettyImages 465481304 - Stephen Darby: Bolton duo Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin to undertake charity bike ride to raise funds for foundation
Darby was forced into retirement in September after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease

Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, the Trotters boss said: “We’re going to do a bike ride at the weekend. “Steve Parkin and several of his friends came up with the idea, and Tim Breacker and myself have joined in with it.

“There’s 10 of us in total who are going to start off at Workington and do the ‘Coast to Coast’ ride to Tynemouth.

“We’ve been in training and it’s been going really well. We all started off at a low base cycling experience, but we’re looking forward to doing it and it’s for a fantastic cause.

“Stephen is about to launch his foundation, so this has been about raising as much money as possible to give him a good base to start and help other people who have this terrible illness.

That brief has certainly been met so far, with around £20,000 raised from the JustGiving page and Darby’s own fundraising efforts.

Parkinson added: “Stephen was a great player for me at Bradford and Bolton. He was a fantastic character and an amazing professional.

PARKINSON - Stephen Darby: Bolton duo Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin to undertake charity bike ride to raise funds for foundation
Parkinson managed Darby at both Bolton and Bradford
Getty

“If you go on YouTube you’ll find a video of him totally dedicated to his goal-line clearances. It was incredible how many goals he saved by being in the right place in the right time.

“He was a brilliant defender and an outstanding reader of the game. He was particularly strong in one-on-one situations.

“He was a real unsung hero for Bradford and had a great relationship with the fan base.

Explaining the thinking behind the challenge, Parkin said: “My friends at the Sherwood Ranger Pub in Carlton-in-Lindrick, Worksop, decided it would be a great idea to do the ‘Coast to Coast’ – Workington to Tynemouth, 136 miles – take or leave a wrong turn on the 17th, 18th & 19th of May 2019.

“Being in our 50’s we feel it’s a real challenge because none of us are keen cyclists but if we show the Stephen Darby spirit, we will get over the finishing line.

“So, myself, Phil Parkinson (Bolton Wanderers manager), Kev Hunter, Paul Bailey, Ross Murdoch, Tony Morris, Tim Breaker (Luton, West Ham, QPR), Chris Caulton, Dave Cutts and Paul Barnett supported by Paul O’Neil and Paul Gibson on logistics are going to being doing just that.

“For everybody who knows us could you please give generously for Stephen’s Foundation, everybody from Football and beyond can really help and support us get up those hills.

“Stephen is going to set us off in Workington, which is a real boost for our moral, as we will probably need it!

To make a donation to the Stephen Darby Foundation, head to their fundraising page.

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