Celtic Lisbon Lions
Danny along with Sir Tom Finney, Pat Crerand & Billy McNeil from a recent evening held for the Celtic Lisbon Lions at The Holiday Inn, Preston.
I was invited by Man United to go along today to present the ‘CashDash Win’ cheques at half-time on the pitch. It’s always a great feeling going to Old Trafford and everyone in the tunnel and the stands stopped for a chat. But nothing could have prepared me for the welcome I got when I went on the pitch. It was deafening I just couldn’t believe it. I felt so welcome it brought a lump to my throat. Thanks all of you Man U fans for your support and thanks Man U for inviting me along.
Steve Mills, Assistant Manager of the Manchester United Development Asscn said:
‘It was great to have Danny with us on Sunday and the reception he received at half-time was the most enthusiastic I have seen for any guest at half-time for a long time’.
Accommodation provided by The Mad Hatter Hotel
Sponsored by: York Fitness, British Boxing and BBE Boxing
Danny Wallace & Frank Maloney at The Lord Clyde Deptford
Click here for pictures from the London Marathon
After an early morning call at 6am I went down to breakfast with Jenny my wife, friend and trainer George Lawrence and Geraldine Davies who is handling my PR for my six day walk. Six days! I have been training hard for 4.5months taking walks, working with weights and eating a diet of pasta, chicken and carbs.
John our driver for the week arrives at 7.30am and we set off for Blackheath. The morning is grey and drizzly but the atmosphere on the Heath is great. Bands, balloons and thousands of people who have been training to take part in this great event to raise funds for lots of different charities.
We are ushered into the VIP tent in the company of Sir Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, Andrew Castle, Rebecca Loos, Jade Goody, Sophie Anderton, Floella Benjamin, Gordon Ramsay and my old mates Luther Blissett and Mark Bright.
We all line up for the countdown ‘5,4,3,2,1’ off go the thousands of runners and my old mate George and I stand to one side to let them pass. Finally they have all gone and we start our walk followed by Lloyd dressed as St George and pulling a dragon!
The drizzle is coming down quite fast but as we walk along St Johns Park Road there at the side is a large group of people playing a recording of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ – always a tear jerker. We reach the first mile and I have to sit down for a rest and wait for the bus while they open the roads again. Suddenly we are on our own as they quickly take down all the barriers and balloons. Thank God for maps!!
Off we go again and people are coming out all along the route to cheer us on and throw money into our collecting buckets. The rain’s getting harder so we get back into the bus and go off the Mum’s for lunch. Pasta and chicken again!
After lunch we start the long walk through Woolwich. ‘Bout time the London Borough’s did something about their pavements. All uneven, cracked, missing – give the disabled some help London! Hills – a big one looms ahead. I hate them because my legs are weak and it is hard to lift my feet. On we go up and down those bloody pavements again. An then my first tumble- tiredness is setting in. Up I get and then out come lots of people from the pubs cheering me on and up go my spirits again. Finally I have completed 4.4 miles for my first day – 2.2 on the morning leg and than 2.2 in the afternoon. Time to go back to my base for the week The Mad Hatter Hotel for dinner served in bed by Jenny followed by a my daily sports massage from me mate George.
A huge billboard of a naked Sharon stone sitting on a chair advertising ‘Basic Instinct II’ was today’s starting point!
Off we go – Jenny, George, Mum, Joan, Brother Clive, kids, Remy, Elisha, Thaila, and old friends Kerry, Angela and Tracy shaking buckets. It’s those pavements again – get it sorted London!
It’s easier for me to walk in the road despite traffic whizzing past a whisker away. We’ve passed Lloyd and his Dragon. God that guy’s brave dressed in full metal armour hauling a solid heavy Dragon.
The Evening Standard send Valentine Low and photographer Kevin to have a chat and walk with me.
I get on the coach for a rest stop and do a ‘down the line’ interview on the phone with Talksport Radio. Then off we go again joined by my old mate Dean who grabs a collecting bucket and runs up to all the cars stopping at red lights, for donations.
It’s good to be in my old manor – Deptford and Greenwich. I’m getting tired now and fall over in the bus lane outside the Royal Navel College. George helps me up and neatly falls over himself! We end up giggling! We reach the Cutty Sark and Granada TV send a crew to interview me. Jen goes into M&S and comes out with armfuls of their great pasta salads!
Off again after lunch down into Creek Road, Deptford past Mum’s house. So many people come out of pubs and shops to say hello and throw money into the buckets, it’s overwhelming.
Then there it is in front of me ‘The Wallace Clinic’ named after me – how proud am I of that.
On we go and I’m very tired now and go down a couple more times. I’ve had enough and decide to call it a day.
Collection amounts to: £150 Sunday and £318 Monday plus £1000 in online donations. Now I know it’s worth the pain.
Trusty John the Coach is here to pick us up for today’s stint. Jen and Geraldine go to our favourite store M&S for the days rations!
Then it’s the start again – Mc Donald’s car park on Evelyn Street. Grey and Drizzly but in high spirits and with my wonderful friends and family around me we head off for Surrey Quays and I am joined by my Worsley MP Barbara Keeley who walks with me to Rotherhithe and donates £20.
The old legs are getting used to this walking now and we start the long haul down Jamaica Road. Geraldine takes the middle of the road, knocking on car windows rattling her bucket. Remy does the right side of the road and Elisha and Thaila do the shops on the left. Loads of donations, loads of people beeping and waving. It really lifts me!
Jamaica Road is looong! Halfway and I’m really tired and the legs are aching badly, but no falls – hurrah!
We reach Tooley Street but it’s too much to go over Tower Bridge and I decide to call it a day. Bedside’s Arsenal are on the telly!
On my way to the halfway mark today. Just got to go up over Tower Bridge along The Highway to Wellclose Street and I have completed 13.1miles. Can’t believe it Off we go again along The Highway, lorries, cabs, cars and people all shouting me on. Hold up – who’s that? Frank Maloney. Ex Manager of World Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis, turns up with some of his fighters and trainers to walk with me. He grabs a bucket and zig zags across the road in between cars followed by my friend Mandy and Geraldine. Talk about dicing with death! But they do good.
Meridian TV’s Andrew Pete follows us all the way filming me walking and chatting to my family. The Highway seems so long. It’s a relief to stop just before the entrance to the Limehouse Link tunnel to be greeted by Dave, the manager of the Mad Hatter Hotel @ Blackfriars and the guys from Fullers Brewery who own the hotel. They have been major sponsors for me and to cap it all present me with an oversized cheque for £1000 for the Danny Wallace Foundation.
It’s overwhelming. Thanks to Fullers, Dave and The Mad Hatter home to me, Jen, George and Geraldine for this week.
The others jump on the bus to go through the tunnel but the Marathon walk takes me, George, brother Clive, Angela and Geraldine down Narrow Street. It’s a world away from the traffic and fumes on The Highway. Really peaceful but inhabited by hundreds of joggers! Never seen so many people running. As they go past they all shout ‘Good Luck’, ‘Well Done’, ‘Keep it up’. It really helps to keep me going with that kind of support. And the donations are great. Everyone that walks past throws coins into the buckets and one guy comes out of his house apologises for only having a few coins, jumps into his car drives down the road and comes back with a £10 note. Can’t believe how much good there is out there, despite what you read in the papers.
It is 2 miles from Wellclose Street to West Ferry Circus in Docklands the Marathon map says. Well my legs think it is 22miles they feel so heavy and I go down again a couple of times. Getting used to this. Get myself up and go on again to our rest stop, the London Pride pub. Am greeted by a barrage of photographers, TV crews, Gareth Davies from The Telegraph and not forgetting Andrew Pate and Meridian who are still with me. Bet they didn’t reckon on having to walk part of the Marathon!
Do a round of photos then a car stops and out steps ex boxer Michael Watson, his brother Jeffrey and helper Leonard. Michael asked Geraldine if he could walk with me to show his support. He said he remembers how much the support of other people meant to him when he did the Marathon in 2003. We sit and have a chat and he pinches my lunchtime banana! We do a round of interviews and are filmed for ITV’s evening news programme walking together.
Off we go again down West Ferry for the last of the day’s two miles. Me, Michael, George, Leonard, Mum, Jen all my wonderful family and friends.
Michael stumbles, I follow. Brothers together Into East Ferry road, I fall forward again but my trusty mate George catches me. Michael is concerned and shouts encouragement. Finally we reach ‘Mudchute’ train station and mile 17. I feel elated but it has been a grueling day – feels like mile 27!
We stop off for a rest before Michael says goodbye and Mum and the family head back over to Greenwich. They are so supportive I don’t know what I’d do without them we head off back to the Mad Hatter for fish, salad and Barcelona v Milan!
Back to Mudchute and The George Pub. The landlady comes out and gives us £20 for the bucket and we start off up East Ferry Road when suddenly an old friend Les jogs up behind me. I played Sunday football with him and Ian Wright at St Paul’s Deptford way back. On up to Canary Wharf where an old school friend JJ comes to walk with me. Collecting is going well and Karina and the staff of the MS Society come along to help with the buckets. As does my old mate Chris Hobbs for the second day. I used to lodge with his Mum and Dad when I first went down to Southampton. He now works on Canary Wharf. Do an interview with the Daily Mirror while I am resting and loads of people come up to have a chat and give donations. It’s amazing how many of them have relatives with MS. An eye-opener
The security staff go over to the bus and ask Geraldine if we have a permit to collect as Canary Wharf is private land. She shows them our official charity status letter and they radio to their boss and ask for clearance. It’s given but the Daily Mirror are listening intently to the conversation! A good story for them had we not been allowed to collect donations.
On around the South Colonnade to the North Colonnade and all the time people are coming out of their offices and throwing coins into the buckets. We reach our rest stop at McDonalds and Chris Ramsay the ex Brighton player comes along to walk and have a chat as does Kevin Brennan who did the book with me and Jonathan Taylor of Highdown Books, the publishers. Jonathan tells me he is getting requests for signed books and leaves 100 for signature!
We move off again to Poplar High Street, down West India Dock Road onto Commercial Road and all the time cars are beeping and money is being thrown into the buckets. Just turning down Butcher Row to get back on The Highway again when my old mate Mark Bright turns up. He walks with me and it’s great to chat to him. I look up and see Angela and Geraldine walking down the middle of the road again with their buckets! Mark says goodbye as we near our stop for the night – John Fisher Street.
Very pleased to see John the Bus and we go back to the Mad Hatter for dinner.
Friday – The Finish!
Well this is it my last day I really can’t believe I am finishing a day early. George gives me my daily massage while I am talking to Radio 5. Good job its not TV!
Down for breakfast and another ‘phone interview with Radio Manchester between mouthfuls of scrambled egg.
Geraldine takes a call from John the Coach. The bus has broken down and he’s going to get another one so he’ll be late. He finally arrives and we set off for John Fisher street our finishing point from last night.
What a momentous day for me so full of mixed emotions. I’m feeling great though. Back along The Highway with Jenny, the kids, Mum Rodney, Raymond, Clive, their wives, girlfriends, kids, and loyal friends, Angela, Kelly and Francine and some friends from Southampton. Past The Tower of London onto Lower Thames street. All the time people are stopping to shake my hand and cars and lorries slow down to chuck coins and notes into the buckets. People come out of their offices with donations. One lady from a solicitors chases us down the road with a handful of notes. She heard us going past and had an office whip round. All the time cars are beeping and people are shouting ‘Good Luck’. A row of six black cabs stop for the lights and each one of them puts a fiver in the bucket. I can’t believe how generous and caring people are. All the time the Daily Mirror is photographing me walking.
We can’t go through the Blackfriars Tunnel so we turn down onto the Thames Path and walk alongside the River. The sun is shining and the river is busy with tourists on boat trips. Never walked here before. London looks great. Stop for the loo at a pub and people come out to put money into the buckets.
We get to Blackfriars Bridge and come up onto the Embankment – it’s only 12.30 and we are so far ahead of time Geraldine decides we should have a two hour rest stop.
It’s great to sit in the sunshine and chat with everybody. All the time the ‘phone is ringing with enquiries from the press about my progress and expected finish time – which is 5pm in The Mall.
BBC Manchester turn up to film me and do an interview and then my old football coach from Southampton Bob Higgins turns up. He was my first coach at Southampton when I was 13. I can’t believe how many people have bothered to come out for me.
At 2.30pm we head off for Embankment Pier and get the same fantastic reception from people, cars, lorries, cabs. Am getting hungry by the time we reach the Pier so the girls go off to buy some grub. Chris Moys and his cameraman Graham Hughes from the Daily Mail arrive to do an interview and walk with me.
We set off again at 3.35pm on the last stretch and still well ahead of schedule. Could have finished earlier if I’d known how speedy I was! But have told the press 5pm so 5pm it is!
We stop opposite the London Eye for a photo with me and Jenny and then one with Big Ben in the background. Got to keep a reminder for the future
We cross over into Birdcage Walk by St James’s Park still too early so ‘the gang’ go into the park so the kids can have a run round and Michael Watson and Leonard arrive. We go and sit in the bus for a while. Chris Hobbs is there again and Julie who has been ‘bigging me up’ on Yahoo all week turns up as well. The sun is shining and the rain has held off and I can’t wait to do the last bit and break through the tape.
Brian and Lucy from the Marathon office arrive and go through the park to the finish point to get the tape ready.
4.50pm. This is it the moment I have been training for and the one I thought I’d never achieve. Even ‘my rock’ Jenny didn’t think I’d get this far. The gang go on ahead to the Finish and me, Jenny and George walk the last quarter mile past Buckingham Palace (I’d like to think she was watching me out of the window). We enter The Mall and I can see the Finish tape with a row of photographers behind it and Michael Watson waiting with a medal for me and George. I feel like galloping now but George slows me down. Don’t want to fall into the cameras at this stage! The kids, my family and friends have made a banner congratulating me which they hold up as I go past.
Everyone is clapping, cheering, whistling and I can’t stop myself from a last minute spurt as I break through the tape. The cameras flash, Michael comes over and puts the medal around my neck and it’s as if it is happening to someone else – I just can’t believe I’ve done it. My old mate George gets his medal and Jen and I can’t stop hugging each other. It’s so emotional for me and my mind flashes back to the dark despairing days when I was first diagnosed and thought life had ended. It didn’t and it hasn’t and I hope this will inspire fellow MS sufferers to see that there is life after diagnosis but you have to go and grab it by the scruff of the neck.
The photographers are shouting ‘look at the camera’ ‘stand by Michael’ ‘smile’ ‘come into the photo Jenny’. It’s surreal. Then I do a load of interviews and can’t stop smiling. Dave from the Mad Hatter brings bottles of champagne and I shake it up and shower everyone. I feel so good I’d like to hold onto this moment forever. Still the pictures will be a lasting memory. I cuddle my Mum, the kids, Jenny my friends anyone within hugging distance. Finally we all get on the bus and go back to the Mad Hatter where they have laid on some food and drink. Dean turns up on crutches followed by my mate, Trix and it’s nice to chill out and say thank you for being such good friends and supporting me.
There are so many people to thank and so many who have written in, ‘phoned and sent donations who I don’t know personally and I want to take this opportunity to thank anyone and everyone who has sent me words of encouragement and donations.
A huge thank you and love to Elisha, Remi, Thaila, Mum, George, Rodney, Raymond, Clive, Rachael, Mandy, Angela, Kelly, Francine, Dean, Chris, Julie, Winston, Megan,Beth, Thomas, Louise, Jo, Ben, Morgan, Macey, Mackenzie, Jenny’s brother Kenny who is going through a bad time, John the Bus, Geraldine, who have been with John the Bus, Geraldine, who have been with me throughout the six days. And to Dave from the Mad Hatter and Fullers for their generous sponsorship. Frank Maloney, Saucony, BBE and Ronhill who have given clothing sponsorship and I’ve left the best till last – Jenny. Without you I wouldn’t have come this far – thanks for being you and standing by me.
Special thanks to: