AFTER months of preparation four footballing pals have completed a mammoth charity cycling challenge.
Members of Sunday league team AFC Prospect Farm Rangers have returned to Hampshire after journeying to the city of Dortmund in Germany.
The inspiration for the 500-mile feat stemmed from the Waterlooville squad's crest and kit – which is styled on that of the Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund – formerly led by now-Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp.
But the trip was about far more than football, as the friends’ efforts raised £5,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society in Havant and the Grassroots Trust, a charity with an aim to alleviate poverty the world over.
The latter cause will support pupils from Park Community School, in Havant, on an upcoming trip to Tanzania which will see them work with schools and orphanages.
Tony Wilkins is the AFC Prospect Farm Rangers manager and was joined on the bike ride by pals Jon Crowley, 33, Tom Cross, 24 and Ryan Tout, 23.
‘To finally arrive in Dortmund was amazing,’ the 55-year-old said.
‘To be able to say ''we've made it'' was a fantastic feeling and we proved some doubters wrong.
‘But more importantly we knew we had managed to complete the task and all felt very proud about how much we had just raised for our two chosen charities.’
Setting off from Havant on August 22, the route took the friends via Dover, where they stayed a night before catching a ferry to Dunkirk and cycling to Ghent, Belgium – before arriving for an overnight stay in Valkenswaard, in The Netherlands, on August 24.
They left their accommodation there bright and early at 4.30am – with an aim to arrive at Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion for a tour at 6pm.
Admittedly ‘cutting it fine’, they arrived in the German city at 5.30pm – bringing an official end to months of nail-biting planning.
Mr Wilkins, a warehouse manager, said: ‘This adventure started of as a joking comment one evening but after more chatting it was to become a reality.
‘Only having about three months to organise, we had to sort out routes, accommodation and support for the trip. Without the help from other team members Allison and Ed we could not have done it.
‘And a massive shout out to for Jetts Portsmouth 24hr Fitness Club (Portsmouth) who not only sponsored the trip, but also helped with our fitness and the use of the gym free of charge.’
‘Very proud’ of what they have achieved, three of the pals did not even own pushbikes when the idea of a 500-mile cycle journey was confirmed.
Now back in Hampshire, Tony says planning has begun for ‘next year's challenge’ in aid of AFC Prospect Farm Rangers’ two chosen charities.