By Richard Sykes

Rugby and football fans will be marching together in support of former Huddersfield Town star Marcus Stewart.

On the weekend of March 22-24, the Northern football community will unite to raise awareness and funds to combat Motor Neurone Disease (MND) with an event called ‘March of the Day.’

The cause has already been embraced by the sporting world with the marathon running exploits of rugby’s Kevin Sinfield touching the nation’s hearts and raising millions for MND research.

March of the Day is a 175-mile walk from Valley Parade in Bradford to Anfield in Liverpool taking in 15 other football grounds en route, including the John Smith’s Stadium.

Town legend Marcus Stewart and former Bradford City and Liverpool defender Stephen Darby are the driving force behind the project.

Both former players have been diagnosed with MND and their competitive instinct has motivated them to do their bit to help others similarly affected.

Core groups of walkers will be completing the entire walk but over 160 other groups will be joining it to support them on the various stages of the journey.

Several have signed up to do the John Smith’s Stadium leg of the march which starts at 4.06pm on Friday March 22. These include four made up of Huddersfield Town supporters and members of Huddersfield RUFC.

Marcus Stewart’s sons Kian and Finlay both play rugby for Huddersfield RUFC and in their time at the club Marcus has become a popular figure at the ground and a loyal supporter of the team.

Huddersfield RUFC president Bohdan Santar is a member of one of groups. He said: “With our strong connection with the Stewart family we are proud to support this event which will raise vital cash in the fight against this horrendous condition.

“It is something that could happen to anyone. A few years ago Doddie Weir spoke at our annual dinner. He had just been diagnosed with MND although we didn’t know at the time.

“He set a brave example in his personal battle and brought the fight to the nation’s attention. Marcus and Stephen are doing likewise and hopefully their fundraising campaign will go a long way to helping others and finding a cure.”

Another one of the participants is Nick Battye who lost his father Tony to MND last April. In his lifetime Tony was a gifted amateur sportsman.

The former Huddersfield Schools high jump champion played football for Cambridge University and went on to captain Honley FC, he was also a long serving member and chairman of Thongsbridge Tennis Club.

Nick said: “My dad loved walking and playing sport, so the ‘March of the Day’ seemed a fitting event to take part in as it brings two of my dad’s great passions together.”

Because of the rugby club connection with the Stewart family the four Huddersfield groups are going to deviate from the main route and finish at Lockwood Park.

Mr Santar added: “We want to show rugby’s support for this football initiative and add our ground to list of those scheduled for an official visit.

“We hope it will mean something to Marcus and that our members and the wider Huddersfield public will give it their backing.”

A JustGiving page has been set up on which people wishing to support the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation in its fight against MND can make contributions. To donate click HERE