Hartlepool United hero Ritchie Humphreys will be back in the North East this weekend as part of a gruelling 500-mile bike ride in memory of his dad – with Darlington among his calling points.

Big John’s Promotion Bike Tour, named after Humphreys’ late father, aims to raise money for St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield.

His father was a Sheffield United supporter, and the bike ride with three of Humphreys’ friends began at Bramall Lane today - they will visit all of the grounds where Humphreys’ dad witnessed the Blades win promotion.

Sheffield United won promotion on an infamous occasion at Darlington in 1982, when Feethams was overflowing with all four sides packed with Blades supporters.

Quakers’ average attendance that season was 2,500, but there were at least five times that number in attendance on the day Blades fans flooded town centre pubs and filled Darlington’s home on a memorable occasion.

The official gate was 12,557, but many believe there were far more crammed into the ground: images of the day feature hundreds of fans lining the touchline as there was not enough space for them in the stands.

The ground, of course, is now a housing estate with Quakers having said farewell to Feethams in 2003.

Humphreys' late father passed away last year due to an asbestos related condition and spent the end of his life being cared for in St Luke’s.

Humphreys' said: “As a family we will never be able to thank the amazing people at St Luke’s enough for the love and care they showed Dad.

“While sitting with dad in his final days, I wanted to think of a way to raise money and awareness for this brilliant charity.

“So my friends and I will be embarking on a huge bike ride.

“Starting at Bramall Lane and St Luke’s Sheffield we will visit all the football grounds John watched Sheffield United gain promotion at.”

Today's destination is Wolverhampton Wanderers, tomorrow they cycle from Tamworth to Leicester City, and Sunday's route will be Sheffield to Darlington.

Hartlepool United was where Humphreys spent more than a decade of his career so has been included as a calling point on Monday, and then it’s down to York. The last leg is York to St Luke’s in Sheffield on Tuesday.

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