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How Wycombe Wanderers showed their class in restoring football’s “beautiful” side

Tuesday 28th February 2017
In a difficult week for football that saw the debacle surrounding “pie-gate” and the fairly harsh dismissal of Claudio Ranieri from Leicester City, one piece of kindness shown by League Two outfit Wycombe Wanderers has given all a reminder of why our game is so dearly loved.

Alex Stedman, 22, is the media manager of Crawley Town and was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer, a horrendous disease that has left Alex having to start chemotherapy from next month.

After Alex revealed he was going to be battling the disease, former West Ham and Wales striker John Hartson - now a pundit for BBC and BT Sport – rang Alex with support after the former Celtic man had previously suffered from the disease.

In turn, Alex decided to start trying to raise money for the John Hartson foundation as a thank-you to the time Hartson spent in discussion about the disease and effort he has put in to try to help others.

The foundation aim's states that it seeks to increase awareness of the disease as well as helping to gather funds to support others affected by cancer, whether it be men, women, children or families.

When Crawley's opponents last Saturday, Wycombe, became aware of this, they decided to invite Alex into the dressing room before kick-off and manager Gareth Ainsworth gave a speech in front of the whole squad informing them of Alex's work before presenting him with a box containing player's boots and a signed ball to sell for the campaign.

Ainsworth's words to Alex left him unsurprisingly speechless but it also gave an indication as to how the good within football is there to be seen.

Alex posted the speech by Ainsworth on Twitter which went viral with the likes of former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan OBE and television presenter Dan Walker being among those who retweeted it praising the gesture.

You can see the tweet by Alex with the video of Ainsworth's speech below:
After the Red Devils defeated the Chairboys 2-1 courtesy of a Joe McNerney header and a stunning Josh Payne free-kick, head coach Dermot Drummy took time to thank Wycombe following the match on Crawley's YouTube page stating the gesture was “absolutely fantastic” and “outstanding”.
“First class from Wycombe to do that. Alex is a lot stronger than people I know and we all know someone who has suffered from it,” said the former Chelsea youth coach.

“So for them to give Alex some memorabilia to auction is fantastic and we'll be all behind Alex in his fight and battle to beat it.”
Wycombe later tweeted wishing Alex luck saying “the football family is right behind you” before confirming that more players have offered their shirts to be donated for the great cause.

So after football endured a difficult week off-the-pitch, Wycombe's gesture is a sign that football certainly does have a soul within the wider community and that it does not deserve to be overshadowed by incidents that leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

We do wish Alex the best so that he can overcome his illness and continue his superb work at Crawley.

If you would like to donate to the John Hartson foundation, you can do so through their website: https://www.johnhartsonfoundation.co.uk/

Greg Stubley
Greg graduated with a first in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton in Summer 2016 and has already managed to gain experience in the industry, working for companies such as Charlton Athletic and talkSPORT. Greg is currently the regular commentator on Charlton's "CAFCPlayerHD" service, bringing full-match live commentary along with Terry Smith of Addicks' games up and down the country for subscribers to listen.

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