The Lion King of Kilimanjaro

Colin Cooper Kilimanjaro pic

CBL Magazine has received this fantastic article from Millwall fan Jason Pickering. We will publish it in our first edition of the new season, but meanwhile spare a few minutes to admire the work of these dedicated trekkers.

For more details of the Finlay Cooper Fund please visit http://www.finlaycooperfund.co.uk

 

After spending years helping to raise funds for the Finlay Cooper Fund via charity football matches, 10k runs, half marathons and many other events, somebody within the FCF committee decided on a trek to Mount Kilimanjaro. After a few drinks at a Sportsman’s dinner not only did this seem a pretty good idea, but no great shakes. So count me in I said … oh dear!

 

On the 7th June this year, myself, Colin Cooper, Craig Hignett and Sky’s legendary sports presenter Jeff Stelling flew out from Heathrow to Nairobi, undertaking a challenge that was far bigger than we all expected. We were accompanied by a further eleven foolhardy trekkers who had also shown a willingness to raise funds for such a great cause.

 

I certainly had trained as hard as I had for anything previously. And felt pretty confident that the challenge, albeit a tough one, would be achievable. Now I loved ‘Coops’ as a player at Millwall and, over the last decade or so, we have become very good friends. But even I was horrified to see that for the next six nights our friendship would be tested within a two-man tent, which was no bigger than an inside of a mini!

 

The team of trekkers all got on very well and we certainly supported each other through some very tough days and nights. For those who don’t know, climbing Kilimanjaro is more of an endurance test, not to mention the affects of altitude that seriously come into play pretty much after about 12/13000 feet.

 

From day one when we went through the Machame gate and trekked for close on eight hours, to the unbelievably tough summit night and day. Where we trekked for close on 15 hours we all worked as a team. All of which culminated in us ALL getting to the summit (19,341ft). Coops, Higgsy and Jeff had been doing “live” updates each day to Radio Tees. And on the day we reached the summit, Coops became very emotional “Live” on air … and rightly so

 

This really put things into perspective as to why we were all climbing this mountain. For those who don’t know Coops, he is a real gentleman. And how he has coped with losing Finlay is nothing short of remarkable. We all had personal goals in our quest to reach the summit and when the going got tough, which believe me it did for me, my dear old Mum who I lost just over a year ago drove me on.

 

Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro was not only one of the most physically and mentally tough things I have done, but also one of the most emotional. Not a dry eye in the house from 15 of us when we got to the top – and all have helped raise significant funds for a fantastic charity.

 

If you ever get the opportunity to climb Kilimanjaro, then take it. As I said, a tough challenge but something I’m very proud of achieving. And I know that the hours of sweat and tears will go someway to helping some terminally ill children.

 

Thanks to all those who have supported me not only with generous donations but also words of encouragement. As for new challenges for the coming year? I think I’ll stick to the charity football matches and gentle jogs!  Jason Pickering

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