Former Premier League referee looks to the future
FORMER Premier League referee Mark Halsey said supporting child cancer sufferers by completing the Great North Run on Sunday was an “emotional” and “heartwarming” experience.
The Bolton-based former official, now part of BT Sport’s new pundit team, said completing the gruelling run was a great moment.
Mr Halsey, who lives in Little Lever, was running for Sara’s Hope Foundation, a cancer charity, and thanked Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and the players and staff at Bury FC for their generous donations.
Sara Hope, aged 16, died of colon cancer in 2002, and the foundation set up in her honour funds special trips abroad for children suffering from cancer.
Four months after leaving football, Mr Halsey, who received the last of his cancer treatment in 2010, completed the 13-mile circuit in Newcastle to raise thousands of pounds for the foundation.
“It was heartwarming and emotional to see these children as I know what I went through with chemotherapy and I thought I had it difficult,” said Mr Halsey.
“But to cope with it as a child would be horrendous.”
BBC pundit and former footballer Robbie Savage was his unlikely companion on the finish line.
“With about 800 metres to go, Robbie bombed past me and I thought “I can’t let him beat me”,” said Mr Halsey.
“In the end, we helped each over the line.”
Having refereed for the last time in May, Mr Halsey said he was pleased with his two hours, two minutes finishing time, which was only 10 minutes slower than his time last year.
“I’ve drunk more bottles of red wine in the last four months than in the previous 15 seasons probably”, he said.
“I’m hurting all over this morning and I felt a bit of pressure, knowing that I’d be letting down all the children that we could send on a special holiday.
“When I got to the last two miles, I hit a brick wall, the back of my hamstrings cramped up and I was struggling.
“In the end I’m really happy with the time because I have been out of training.”
He thanked people for supporting him, including manager Kevin Blackwell and all the players at Bury FC, “a fantastic football club who deserve credit”, according to Mr Halsey.
On his retirement, Mr Halsey, who battled cancer in 2010 to return to the top flight of football refereeing, said: “It is great to be out of the pressure cooker of the Premier League.
“I miss refereeing the matches, and the rapport I had with players, but I miss none of the stuff that comes with being a referee.”
He is keeping tabs on his former colleagues through his role with BT Sport, and is enjoying the fresh challenge.
“It’s very nerve-wracking, broadcasting live to the nation but BT have been really supportive and helpful,” said Mr Halsey.
“A lot of referees have done it and people have said to me that I would be a natural, but I don’t think I am.
“People have told me I’m a natural, although I used to be a referee so criticising them, using a TV, is hard.”
Mr Halsey has taken to being a football pundit so well he has secured some extra work with broadcaster Al Jazeera in Doha.
A new book detailing Mr Halsey’s experiences in football, called Added Time, is being released today.
* Read an interview with Mr Halsey about his new book in The Bolton News tomorrow.
Comments are closed on this article.