Oct 15 2008 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
IT has been an interesting time at Swindon Town and that’s mainly been due to the strange days on which our fixtures have fallen.
Instead of the normal Saturday with the odd midweek game, it started off with a 2pm Sunday kick-off against Millwall, followed by last Friday night’s game away to Hartlepool and then culminating in a more familiar Tuesday night trip to Hereford United.
It isn’t ideal, as footballers like sticking to a routine – training and playing at the same time every week.
The game against Millwall didn’t go very well. A 2 -1 defeat didn’t make for a good weekend, although personally, it was made a whole lot better by having my Mum and Dad and the family dog Ben down for a visit.
As a result of the game on Friday, and to keep the week feeling as normal as possible, we did some light training on the Monday with Tuesday becoming our usual Wednesday day off.
It also meant that for nine of the squad – including yours truly – it was nearly time to shave off the moustaches we’d been growing for the past month!
Let me explain. For the past two years, I’ve been involved with the Everyman campaign, which funds research into testicular and prostate cancer.
Two years ago, Adam Tann, a Leyton Orient team-mate and one of my best friends, was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
At the age of 24, and a professional footballer in peak physical condition, to say it was a shock to us all is a massive understatement.
Luckily for him though, the cancer was in its very early stages and after surgery and a single chemotherapy treatment, ‘Tanny’ was back playing in just four months.
As footballers, we are very lucky to have doctors on hand almost daily. We know them very well and feel completely comfortable talking to them and had Tanny not been in that fortunate position, who knows how long it would have been before he’d have paid a visit to his GP.
That’s why the Everyman charity is so important. It succeeds not only in raising money to fund research into male cancer through various tongue-in-cheek events, but also in raising awareness in young men, encouraging them to self-examine and get any suspicious lumps checked out as quickly as possible.
What’s that got to do with growing moustaches? Well, every September Everyman runs the Tacheback campaign which (if you’ve not already guessed) encourages men to grow the best moustache they can in a month while raising as much money as possible.
Basically, it’s an excuse to have a laugh and not shave for a whole month while raising awareness of testicular cancer.
By the end of the month there was a great amount of dodgy facial hair at the club.
It’s fair to say that some were better than others and although I envisioned a kind of Burt Reynolds/Smokey and the Bandit style look for myself, it wasn’t to be and I ended up looking more like one of the Village People.
Mind you, it was still better than poor Callum Kennedy’s, which consisted of about 10 whispy hairs randomly spaced along his top lip – but then, he is only 17.
The boys gave it a good go and managed to raise a decent amount of cash, which was what it was all about, although most couldn’t wait to get the razors out after the final photo was taken and our other halves were even more pleased to see them go.
To celebrate the end of the tache-growing month, Everyman holds a tache competition/party in London with me and fellow midfielder Michael Timlin going along to represent the team.
I was one of the judges at last year’s event alongside Charlie Higson from The Fast Show and Miss Winchester.
We had the task of choosing the winning moustache which involved watching around 60 half-drunk entrants taking their individual turn on the catwalk to show off their month’s achievements.
This time I was on the other side and strutted my stuff with the rest of my hairy comrades. It’s the most surreal sight to see a room full of mustachioed men, most of whom have dressed up for the occasion.
I think moustaches must bring out people’s eccentric side as once again there were a couple of Top Gun-style pilots, a few English country gents and a good handful that looked like they got lost on their way to auditions for a seventies cop TV series.
Anyway, it was a great night and even though we didn’t win, we’ll probably do it all again next year.