Saturday, 25 September 2021

Walking away from Wembley

A FOOTBALL fan is to walk from Wembley to Henley on the day of Reading?s FA Cup semi-final after losing a bet with friends.

A FOOTBALL fan is to walk from Wembley to Henley on the day of Reading?s FA Cup semi-final after losing a bet with friends.

In January, Rob Leigh joked with Geoff Luckett and Reece Pigden that the Royals had so little chance of making it to Wembley that if they did, he would walk there.

At that stage, Reading had just beaten Huddersfield in the third round. However, Mr Leigh?s own favourite team, Everton, had lost to West Ham, so he made the bet with the two members of Henley Golf Club, where he works as a golf administrator.

The 25-year-old thought nothing more of it until Reading reached the quarter-finals and he realised that if they won he would have to honour his bet as the semi-finals as well as the final are played at Wembley.

The Royals then beat Bradford City 3-0 after a replay to set up a last four meeting with cup holders Arsenal next Saturday (April 18). Mr Leigh will begin the 30.7-mile walk to the golf club at 3am.

He said: ?I didn?t think anything of what I had said until Reading drew Bradford, then people started bringing it up. After that I wanted Reading to get through.

?I was going to walk to Wembley from the club but I want my first game there to be an Everton one ? I refuse to watch Reading there before my own team." Mr Leigh will be raising money for the Reading and West Berkshire branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association and has already made more than £5,000.

The charity has helped former club captain Peter Phillips, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2012.

At the time Mr Leigh was coaching his grandsons, Toby and Sam.

He said: ?People will be able to join me for the last bit of the walk and hopefully Peter will be joining me on his electric wheelchair.?

His route will take him via Hayes, Yiewsley, Cippenham, Slough, Maidenhead and Wargrave.

He plans to get to the Angel on the Bridge pub in Henley by about 4pm to meet members and well-wishers before they all tackle the last mile-and-a-half to the Harpsden club where they will watch the game. Mr Leigh, who lives at the golf club, is not worried by the challenge.

He said: ?I?m excited now and I have got so much support.

?I have been doing a few walks and some running but I play golf all the time and that?s a four-mile walk round the course.?

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