Andy Mitten and Gary Neville.

'I never want to get on a bike again!'

A group of Manchester United fans were greeted by Treble legends Andy Cole, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville at Old Trafford on Monday, after completing an epic charity cycle ride from Barcelona.

The journey, which started at FC Barcelona’s Nou Camp, exceeded 2,000km in length, encompassed 16 days of consecutive riding and has raised over £40,000 towards a new ambulance for St. Ann’s Hospice.
The ride was conceived by well-known Red, fanzine editor and journalist Andy Mitten, in honour of his late father, Charlie Mitten – nephew of the great 1948 FA Cup-winning United hero of the same name – who passed away from cancer on 6 November 2018.
“Dad died in Salford in a hospice, where the care he received was fantastic,”
Andy told us, after completing the final few metres to Old Trafford around 5pm.
“But two weeks before he died, there was no ambulance for my dad. He had to get a lift home to die. We wanted to do something positive and we’ve done our bit. A thousand people have sponsored us so we can put an ambulance on the streets of this city.
“It doesn’t get us our dad back, but we’ve tried our best and we’ve had a lot of support from a lot of people, including the lads who’ve come here to see us, and we’re buzzing off that.
Two of Andy’s brothers, Joz and Sam, signed up for the odyssey, along with two other mates, John-Paul and Steve.
Andy’s uncle Dave (Charlie’s brother and a former FA Cup-winning kit man with Wigan Athletic), plus home-and-away United fan Tony Murphy, followed the quintet, transporting food, clothes and supplies through Spain, France and England.
“We got a load of punctures,”
Mitten continued.
“We had some good days, we had some bad days. We just kept going. We’re pretty fit – I just feel like I don’t want to get on a bike again!
Gary Neville said:
“I know his dad passing away had a huge impact upon Andy and obviously to do this, and get an ambulance, is absolutely incredible. So well done to them all. We said we'd meet them at the end. I thought we were going to do the last leg, actually. We agreed, a few weeks ago, to do the last leg, but we backed out! We thought we'd let them come in and meet them here at Old Trafford.”
Ryan Giggs remarked:
“My Grifter's got a puncture so I couldn't quite make it! But it's a great effort. Andy’s talked about some of the challenges they've had, so they can have a pint tonight and enjoy it.”
Mitten explained that the group had enjoyed great support from some of the north-west’s leading football clubs, as well as friends, family, strangers and sponsors.
“Manchester United have been brilliant. They said right from the start: ‘What can we do for you?’ They put a suite on for us; they've put some food on for us. Liverpool FC have been brilliant, Manchester City have been brilliant. 
“Liverpool gave us Andy Robertson's shirt from Madrid. It went for £5,000. I said to the lad who bought it: 'Do you want to come and get it at Old Trafford? Gary Neville will present it to you.' The lad said, 'Under no circumstances.'
United journalist Andy Mitten completing his charity bike ride outside Old Trafford.
Watch how Andy Mitten and the lads finished their charity bike ride at Old Trafford.
“My wife has looked after my kids for 16 days, which has been a challenge,”
he continued.
“We've had a huge amount of support, and you need that. We had the two lads driving us. One went through a red light on the first day!
“We had Wigan's former kit man on top of the hygiene, washing our kit every single day. We were in a pub near Birmingham yesterday and this pot went round and they just said, 'Here's £190 towards your ambulance'. Complete strangers.
“It was a team effort. I was probably the weakest cyclist, and I needed the lads to help me, just to say, ‘Push on, push on’. But we've raised the dough. For us, it's a lot of money to raise, so we're buzzing with it.”
Everyone at Manchester United would like to congratulate the lads on their fantastic efforts, for such a worthy and important cause. Rest in peace, Charlie Mitten.


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