Fans and players get on their bikes for Woody

Paul Hardman who will cycle to every club John Woods played for
Paul Hardman who will cycle to every club John Woods played for
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RUGBY league players and supporters will get on their bikes for an ambitious trek to raise money for a statue dedicated to a Leigh club legend.

The ride, which has been dubbed the Tour de Woody, is the first fund-raising event in a campaign to get a statue of John Woods built outside the Leigh Sports Village (LSV) and involves a 110-mile route taking in all the clubs where the stand-off played.

The event is being organised by Leigh fan Paul Hardman, who was brought up in the same area as Woods, and will involve riding from the LSV to Warrington, Bradford and Rochdale’s grounds before returning the borough around 12 hours after setting off.

A host of ex-rugby league professionals have already signed up to cycle either part or all of the route, with Woods’ team-mates and those who wore the red and white shirts after him keen to do their part.

Paul, from Butts Bridge, said: “It’s a bit of a trek but John is worth it. He’s so modest and humble and from the age of about 10 he was my hero when he was playing.

“We grew up on the same estate, everyone looked up to him then and they still do now. I’m also a massive Manchester United fan and I put John in the same bracket as Eric Cantona, that’s how highly I rate him.”

The Tour de Woody takes place on September 26, beginning at 6am and finishing at 6pm as a reference to the number of the shirt Woods wore as a stand off.

Cyclists will depart from Leigh to Warrington, with the Wire past players’ association also making a donation to the campaign, before heading across the Pennines to Bradford and returning to the LSV via Rochdale.

Several fellow Leigh fans have already signed up to join the ride and Paul will wear a yellow jersey donated by Bar None.

Ex-Leigh players will also be well represented, with Woods’ team-mate and prop Bryan Gelling agreeing to do the entire ride alongside stand off Andy Fairclough who captained Leigh during the late 1990s.

Other Leythers who will take part in some of the journey include popular prop Tony Cottrell, Ian Lewis, Simon Warhurst, Wayne Standish, Dave Bradbury and Simon Baldwin.

Leigh Centurions Players’ Association chair Jason Donohue, who came up with the original idea for the statue, said: “I think the response just shows the respect people in Leigh have got for John and what he did in the game, not just the past players but the public too.”

The campaign, spearheaded by a group of Leigh rugby league fans, aims to raise £30,000 to unveil a bronze statue next year to mark Woods’ 60th birthday.

The Tour de Woody cycle ride to all the clubs John Woods played for is on Saturday September 26.