Helping You Is What I Do

What’s said on the adventure stays on the adventure, and if you were there to witness the passion first hand, then you’re good enough and important enough to be part of the fabric of LFN. That will appear unduly cryptic to 99.9% of the people who read this but be assured that everything is fine. The LFN blog isn’t a tabloid newspaper and we all want the same thing at the end of the day.

Now, to the real business of the day (after), I have to try and get my head round a milestone that’s really just that, a milestone. It’s been a marker in the sand for a very long time and back in January, it seemed an eternity away. Not any more: 15,000 miles has come and gone in the blink of an eye. If I may document the moment, it was at 6:08am on the Ayr Road just as I was about to hang a right into the housing scheme past the new Cala development. I’ve gone back to using the posh houses in Newton Grove as a rat run to avoid the lights at Mearns Cross. Even at six of clock in the morning when there’s hee haw traffic about, the rat run buys me a couple of minutes that I can put to better use on the flat roads of Glasgow.

15,000 miles is a very long way. It’s the distance from Glasgow to  Samoa going the long way round. It’s roughly speaking Glasgow to London and back ten times (with a wee bit to spare) so it’s kind of like doing that trip every two months for almost two years. It’s a long way. And what’s left to do is Glasgow to Adelaide all over again, which is rather ironic because all roads led to South Australia when I hit 10,000 miles back in October ’14.

As things stand, only one thing that I’m aware of can stop me finishing the job: the hernia repair. It flares up from time to time, yet the next day, after it’s been sore, it can be perfectly fine again. All the other niggles I mentioned at the end of May have settled back down by virtue of not letting go of the big miles, just relaxing a wee bit on the speed. But almost 3,000 miles have passed since I got back on my bike so I’m hoping the grumbling hernia is what the surgeon said would be residual pain that might take months to go away. Today it’s bad whereas 48 hours ago it was fine. With a bit of luck it’ll have calmed down a wee bit more by tomorrow and Monday will be back to being a normal day.

It’s not unusual to go into Friday without a theme or a topic to write about, but to get to teatime on a Friday without one was both unusual and ever so slightly disconcerting: those tend to be the blogs full of waffle and bullshit. That’s exactly where I was at yesterday before I had a chance encounter with Rose Reilly Peralta. Let me tell you about Rose, because if you don’t know the story, this is sure to warm your heart.

While I was busy watching Spurs beating Burnley in the FA Cup Final back in 1962, Rose Reilly was just starting out with Stewarton United, aged seven. By the time she was ten, Rose had made it into the Stewarton Thistle Ladies team and was a member of the Stewarton team that won the inaugural Scottish Cup in 1971. Rose had enjoyed a wee bit of early success but that was nothing compared to what was to follow…

Following a brief spell with Westhorn Utd the following season, where she won the Scottish treble, Rose walked into the office of the Daily Record in Glasgow and asked to see the sports editor. “Hello, I’m Rose Reilly and I would like to know if you can help me to become a professional footballer”. Rose was just 16. The Record arranged a trial with French club Reims, which resulted in Rose coming back to Stewarton to pick up her stuff and head for France full time.

After six months with Reims, Rose was scouted by AC Milan where she played professionally for four years, winning two league titles. She went on to win a total of eight with a variety of clubs. Titles with different clubs? Maybe Rose was the catalyst: just saying…

Rose twice won the Golden Boot in Italy, in 1978 and 1981, scoring over 40 goals on each occasion. In 1984, Rose was voted the best player in the Italian team that won the unofficial Wold Cup and she scored in a 3-1 win over West Germany in the final. By the time she retired, aged 40, Rose had won 8 Serie A league titles, 4 Italian Cups and one French League title. In 2007, she was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall Of Fame. And after she retired, Rose and her husband Norberto returned back home to Stewarton where she lives, largely unnoticed by newcomers but revered by those who know the story. Rose is one of us…

Jane and I have known Rose and Norberto for many years because their daughter is the same age as Joe, our youngest. And no matter what the occasion, Rose always asks how Joe is getting on at Stewarton Annick: last night we had to report that he’s currently injured and waiting on an MRI scan. As ever, Rose was concerned and full of ideas.

But I chose to tell this story not because Rose is a local girl done good but because she looks after herself. Aged 60, she rises at 5am every day and goes running on the streets around Stewarton with her sister: weather no object; time of year no object.

Are you starting to get the link here?

Rose and I get each other. It’s about wanting that thing that’s way off limits and being totally focussed in the way you look after yourself. And then Rose used a phrase that I’d never heard before and which kind of blew me away because it gave real meaning to where I’m at in LFN…

“I’m super in love with my life”.

If I wanted a phrase to describe how I feel on the journey, right now, right in this instant, that is it: “I’m super in love with this adventure”. It’s about the people I’ve met, the people I know but have yet to meet in person, and the whole goodwill thing that goes with trying to get the message out there. I haven’t raised a million pounds, heck I haven’t even raised ten grand, but maybe I’ve helped to teach a few hundred people about a dreadful disease that strikes kids at an early age, and for no apparent reason.

And why I am in love with this gig? Because when I look at what’s happened with wee Eileidh these past few weeks, I am proud to have been a member of her team. It won’t be official until the NCCA announce it but as an avid watcher of the various Eileidh Just Giving accounts, I know that she’s already achieved her magical target of £100K in order to go to the United States for the next part of her treatment. There’s just one hurdle to overcome: to be declared cancer free. Princess, the LifeCycle Man is with you in your fight, and I do hope you’re on that plane at the start of July.

Eileidh, you’ve come a long way in twelve months, and you’ve endured more pain that I will ever know, but we will come through this. Promise.

Because helping you is what I do.

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