TONY PULIS has offered words of encouragement to a team of cycling enthusiasts who will tackle a 300-mile ride next week to raise funds for two vital community schemes.
Stoke City's manager, who took part in a John O'Groats to Land's End bike ride last year for the Donna Louise Children's Hospice, has urged supporters to give their backing to the cyclists as they endeavour to raise money that will boost community projects within the game.
The sponsored bike ride is the brainchild of two work colleagues at Stoke Citroen, James Bertram and Gordon Walker; one a Potters supporter, the other a fan of Scottish club Rangers.
Therefore, the 300-mile route which they plan to cover in the space of three days will take them from the Britannia Stadium to Ibrox, while the money that they raise from those exploits will go to the Stoke City Community Trust and the Rangers Charity Foundation.
"It's a fantastic effort, so they deserve all the support and encouragement they can get, both now in training for the event and throughout the ride itself," commented Pulis.
"I'm sure it will be an unforgettable experience, as it was for me last year. What will keep them going at times will be the knowledge they are raising money for a good cause."
The team of cyclists, which will include City's Head of Community Adrian Hurst, will set off on May 1st and plan to arrive in Glasgow two days later, ahead of Rangers' final home match of the season against Berwick Rangers when they will be presented with the Third Division trophy.
Rangers supporter Bertram explained: "Gordon and I came up with the idea of doing the cycle ride while on a trip to India last year. There is a long association between the two clubs which goes back to the time when the Loving Cup was presented to Rangers by the Stoke President.
"We thought that raising money for the respective community schemes would be a great way for the two clubs to link up again and we hope to establish this as an annual event."
In that respect, Bertram is greatly encouraged by the support which they have already received since outlining their plans to embark upon the ride and then beginning preparations.
"The level of backing has been incredible from a whole host organisations and individuals, so much so that we have already raised our level of expectations," he added.
"At the outset, we were hoping to raise £5,000 for each charity, but now we are aiming higher than that due to the support, something which will spur us on in the coming weeks."
As well as the grand arrival in Glasgow for Rangers' final match of the season, the cyclists will also ride into City's final home game of the season against Tottenham Hotspur eight days later which has, of course, been designated as the Club's 150th anniversary celebration match.
"It seems quite appropriate that we should be launching this fund-raising event in our 150th anniversary year because there is great emphasis on the Club's link with the community in many of the celebrations which are taking place over the course of the year," explained Hurst.
"Therefore, we will be returning to the Britannia Stadium for the 150th anniversary match when we play Tottenham Hotspur and we hope that a collection that day will help round off a very successful mission to provide vital funding for many more community-based projects."
The organisations who have already pledged their support for the bike ride are: Evans Halshaw, Citroen UK, The Co-operative Group, Menzies Hotels, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Swinnerton Cycles, PREM Management and the Premier League Support.
For those who wish to sponsor the cyclists, you can do so by clicking HERE