Ex-Leeds United, Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers favourites to help raise funds for three-year-old cancer sufferer Rio Spurr

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When superdad and former PNE and Blackburn Rovers footballer Tommy Spurr steps out to play at a special match this month he will have some VIP company.

A host of veteran sporting stars, many with links to PNE and Blackburn Rovers, are joining him in a day of fundraising for his son Rio.

The “Spurr’s Legends” team will be playing against Ribchester Rovers FC on Ribchester Recreation Ground on Sunday, September 11.

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Players to look out for at the ‘Red Day For Rio’ include Colin Hendry, Kevin Gallacher, Danny Graham, Jermaine Beckford, David Dunn and Matt Kilgallon.Entry will be free but organisers are hoping for generous donations on the day to boost a fund for future medical treatment for Tommy’s son who is three years old and has a rare form of cancer.

Tommy and Rio promoting the "Red Day For Rio"Tommy and Rio promoting the "Red Day For Rio"
Tommy and Rio promoting the "Red Day For Rio"

Tommy, who became a teacher and radio commentator following his football career, explained where the day got its name. He said: “Red is Rio’s favourite colour. We thought he would quite like the team playing in red.”

Anyone wanting to help boost the fund can also give a donation via the family’s GoFundMe page which can be found by searching for The Spurr family

How Ribchester Football Club became involved

Ribchester Football Club publicity spokesman Paul Dunne said: “Tommy and his wife Chloe are former Ribchester Residents and the club were keen to be involved with the family’s #AllforRio fundraising campaign when they found out Rio had been diagnosed with a rare cancer.”He continued: “Rio has a stage four Wilms’ tumour – a rare kidney cancer which affects some 80 children in the UK each year. The cancer has spread to his lungs and has high risk features which make it more difficult to cure and more likely to relapse if he is cured. He is currently undergoing intensive chemotherapy at RMCH (Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital) and will have radiotherapy treatment this month.”

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Part of the poster promoting the "Red Day For Rio"Part of the poster promoting the "Red Day For Rio"
Part of the poster promoting the "Red Day For Rio"

Which other footballers will be playing and what time does the match start?

The remaining line-up for the event comprises Craig Conway, Neil Mellor, Brett Ormerod, John Welsh, Chris Sedgwick, Ian Bryson, David Lucas, Jack Cudworth, Graeme Atkinson, Paul McKenna, Chris Humphrey, David Eyres, Mark Patterson, Gary Bowyer and Steve Thompson.

‘Red Day For Rio’ kicks off at 11.30am with matches starting at 1pm. There will be three thirty minute games with the celebrity players, stepping in and out of the games to give everyone a chance to play.

There will be bars, food stalls, face painting, inflatable and games to ensure a grand family day out with plenty of entertainment for youngsters.

Colin Hendry clears the ball in a charity match in 2017Colin Hendry clears the ball in a charity match in 2017
Colin Hendry clears the ball in a charity match in 2017

How Rio is an inspiration

Tommy acknowledges it’s been tough for the family, which also includes 18 month old sibling Rudy, since Rio’s diagnosis in April. He said: “It’s hard keeping everything going.He inspires us every day...with everything he’s been through to still be this amazing little boy – how could we not hold it together.”

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He said they had at first hoped Rio would make a good recovery but this month he is undergoing extensive chemo and radiotherapy treatment.

Tommy said: “It’s heartbreaking for us not knowing how he’s going to do. Words can’t describe what day to day life is like for us at the moment.”

Tommy (pictured left) showing off the red -Tshirts which have been sponsored by BusinessGiftUK.comTommy (pictured left) showing off the red -Tshirts which have been sponsored by BusinessGiftUK.com
Tommy (pictured left) showing off the red -Tshirts which have been sponsored by BusinessGiftUK.com

After taking advice from medical experts the family felt it was best to set up a fund so if the time came when Rio’s treatment options were exhausted in the UK further specialist treatment, only available overseas, could be sought.

Rio had a four hour operation to remove the main tumour and his right kidney but sadly the pathology results showed Rio would need many more months of treatment.

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Tommy said: “The thing we have to hold on to and that’s what we’re trying to do very day is to give him an even better chance. He’s our strength. We have to do it for him. We would do anything for him.”

Tommy addded: “The (Ribchester Football Club) club has been amazing at supporting us. When we consider how people have put in their own time and thought and effort to try and raise this money for us – we’re massively indebted to them.”

How to help

Apart from supporting the event and donating on the day donations can be aded to The Spurr family Go Fund Me page (search on gofundme.com).

Part of the poster promoting the "Red Day For Rio"Part of the poster promoting the "Red Day For Rio"
Part of the poster promoting the "Red Day For Rio"

Posters have also been put up locally with a link to donate. More funds will be raised from sponsorship and visitors will be able to pay to take a photo with celebrity players in a special Photo Zone.

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This week £53,754 has been raised of a £100,000 goal to fund any treatment overseas should Rio relapse in the future.The Spurr family’s Go Fund Me page notes: “We are SO proud of him! Beyond proud of both him and his little brother Rudy who is a massive part of this too. They are both remarkable little boys! Rio has been through far too much already and a lot more to come but still he continues to smile and sing his way through this hideous disease.”

* Details of upcoming fundraising events can be found at https://linktr.ee/allforrio

Tommy Spurr

A special souvenir programme will be for sale on the day featuring biographies of the Spurr’s Legends players. Here is Tommy’s profile:

"Tommy Spurr – Tommy is a former Ribchester resident and was born in Leeds. He began his career in the championship with Sheffield Wednesday spending five full seasons with the first team. He moved to Doncaster, where he won promotion from League One in 2013 before joining Blackburn Rovers in the same summer. Tommy left Ewood Park for Preston North End in the summer of 2016 and announced his retirement from the game through injury in 2019. Since leaving full time football, Tommy has worked as a radio pundit for BBC Radio Lancashire and qualified as a teacher.”