The football club’s 2021 strip is part of a new ‘LET’S BE CLEAR’ about male cancer campaign for Male Cancer Awareness Week (October 13 to 19).
In conjunction with Heck, the team is raising awareness of two of the UK’s biggest killers in men - prostate and testicular cancer – with the new strip that swaps Heck for ‘Check’ branding to encourage men to check themselves regularly and see their GP if they spot a problem.
Club chairman, Martyn Coombs, said: “Previous kits had a quite implicit cancer message but this year, the testicular and prostate cancer message is far more explicit with two giant arrows pointing to the genital area as a reminder for men to check their testicles regularly and on the reverse it says Prost above the number 8 with arrows again directing the eye to prostate area.”
To date, the club has worked with the Bedale-based food company to raise almost £200,000 for Prostate Cancer UK through shirt sales and other fundraising initiatives, and it is hoping to reach a goal of £250,000 by the end of the year.
The two joined forces after both lost loved ones to prostate cancer. Heck’s co-founder, Andrew Keeble, lost his father at the age of 77 and Steve Garbett, a good friend of the football club, died in 2014.
Andrew’s son Jamie was also diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 25, but after a trip to his GP it was caught early, treated and he is now in remission. Team Garby was established in 2015 to raise awareness of and money for Prostate Cancer UK.
The pair wanted to find a way to raise money to support research into these devastating illnesses and they came up with the idea of creating the novel football strips to get people talking. The strips are now recognised around the world.
The club’s first food themed kit gained global attention back in 2017, when their shirts and shorts covered in Heck bangers was voted one of the ‘wurst’ ever. Next came the iconic hotdog kit, followed by a bangers & mash strip that famously got banned by the FA for infringing advertising rules, but it didn’t stop fans around the world wanting to get their hands on a shirt of their own.
Mr Coombs said: ‘We got such a huge response to the kit and were inundated with requests to buy them, so we decided to produce extra shirts to cope with demand and, with £5 from the sale of every shirt donated to charity, we now raise thousands of pounds every year. This year we’re supporting a testicular cancer charity too."
Calling for greater backer to ensure better testing and research, Mr Keeble is urging men over 50 to proactively seek out testing.
“My father approached his GP after experiencing difficulties but, by then, it was too late," he said.
"Prostate cancer is absolutely something we can do something about. Men are often too embarrassed, too shy, or too ruddy stubborn, to get it checked out.
"Across the UK, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and one in eight men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime and over 47,000 men are diagnosed every year. Every 45 minutes one man dies from prostate cancer, that’s 32 a day and more than 11,000 men every year.”
“We’ve been delighted to enjoy this partnership with Bedale AFC and have some fun along the way”, he added.
“What started as an innocuous sausage kit a few years ago has snowballed into this massive, almost unstoppable force that shows no sign of letting up. Every time we think that’s it, we get another idea for a new kit and away we go again. However, there is a very serious side to all of this because we want to continue to raise awareness of male cancers and fundraise to support vital research.”
Bedale AFC / Heck football shirts can be ordered from www.historicfootballshirts.co.uk.