The Cross Word: The folk putting sheen on star and crescent

Tom Dearie, centre, took part in the ''Ride2Bury challenge last year.'''Picture: Sarah Standing
Tom Dearie, centre, took part in the ''Ride2Bury challenge last year.'''Picture: Sarah Standing

John Crossley is undertaking a 16,000-mile round-trip to get involved.

That’s nothing particularly unusual for the Pompey president – he does that all the time, at the age of 62, to get to home games from Taiwan.

And then there’s Tom Dearie, who thought he’d tackle the London Marathon three days before taking on the gruelling 300-mile challenge.

Tom Foot is getting involved again as well, after completing the event last year despite the small issue of recovering from being hit by a car.

And Darin McLoud is changing lives while changing his own – he’s lost six stone in recent years, and will again be teaming up with these gluttons for punishment with a cause.

Yes, those Pompey nutters on two wheels are back – and this time there’s even more of them.

Last April, a group of 20 fans took on the task of cycling from Fratton Park to the last away trip of the season at Bury for local charities.

Now the numbers involved have swollen to 40 as they, ahem, gear up for the challenge of traversing the country once more.

The Big Pompey Ride team are rallying themselves for their latest energy-sapping-awe-inducing task, which begins on April 29.

York2Pompey is the trial which lies in wait for this hardiest band of Fratton folk.

Young Jack Robinson’s fight against a brain tumour moved us all.

He lost that battle last April, but it was charities associated with him which benefited from much of the £23,500 raised.

Now, the aim is to hit the £40,000 mark and deliver funds for worthy causes across Pompey communities.

Among them are the Elizabeth Foundation, Sam’s Haven, Kitbags and Berets, Pompey in the Community, Pompey Disabled Supporters’ Association and the Pompey Pals’ Project.

Wymering’s Jack Sims will see the benefit of the group’s commitment, too, as £66,000 is targeted – which will hopefully change his life.

The four-year-old, who has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, needs that money to fund a Stateside operation which could allow him to walk unaided.

There is a particular poignancy to Gosport’s Harbour Cancer Support Centre being another cause being supported.

The group, of course, were on the receiving end of one of the darkest chapters in the club’s sordid recent history.

They and the Tom Prince Cancer Trust went unpaid as money collected at fundraisers disappeared.

Convicted fraudster, Daniel Azougy, was said to have been the man to refuse making the payment.

It’s been five years since that sickening act, and, here we are, now publicising stories about people connected with Pompey which lift the spirits.

‘We’re all a little bit touched!’ said Dearie. ‘But people are seeing the good they are doing.

‘We’re helping local people and making a difference. That’s a special thing.’

Dearie is vice-chairman of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust and Crossley one of the club’s presidents.

But really they are fans; royal blue bloods who have a desire to do something positive in Pompey’s name.

Their work, however, also continues the cleansing process which began in court 30 of the High Court’s Rolls Building on April 19, 2013 – the day Pompey was saved by its their own.

We might not be going anywhere this season when it comes to League Two status.

But the star and crescent is out of the gutter and has its sheen again.

And it’s thanks to the likes of those nutters on bikes that’s the case.

To support the York2Pompey challenge visit bigpompeyride.co.uk or email info@bigpompeyride.co.uk for any queries.