14 August 2021

"I love the idea that something as simple as talking about sport can make such a big difference to people’s lives."

Alex Carey, from Rochdale in Greater Manchester, is running the 2021 Great North Run half-marathon for Sporting Memories. Alex is a big sports fan. Football of course (Manchester United especially) and “everything in between”.

“I listen to talkSPORT almost every day. I heard Paul Hawksbee talk about Sporting Memories and that they were looking for runners for the Great North Run. The work of Sporting Memories immediately resonated with me.”

Alex has always been a runner but stepped up his distances during the pandemic. The longest distance he had completed prior to that was 10K. During lockdown he ran with his friend Tom Halliday and together they worked up to running a ‘DIY’ half-marathon.

Alex Carey, running

The chance to run the Great North Run, and to raise funds for a charity that meant something, was too good to resist. But it was an experience while working in his role as Communications Lead at Kirklees Council that provided the best motivation.

“Last year we heard from the carers of an 86-year-old  gentleman who lived alone after his wife passed away. He was being supported by Kirklees Council while his family were unable to visit him due to lockdown.”

That man turned out to be Colin Grainger, also known as the ‘singer winger’. Colin Grainger turned professional in 1950, eventually winning seven England caps which included scoring two goals against Brazil and one against West Germany. His signings included Leeds United and Sheffield United, playing alongside Sir Stanley Matthews, Bobby Charlton and Billy Bremner.

“Mr Grainger’s carers told us that they realised he enjoyed talking about football and this became a good way to get chatting. They gradually learned that he used to play football for England.”

England captain Harry Kane heard about Mr Grainger through the FA and arranged to chat with him. During their conversation, Colin Grainger recalled his goals.

Alex says: “I love the idea that something as simple as talking about sport can make such a big difference to people’s lives.”

Our thanks go to Alex for running for Sporting Memories and we wish Alex the very best for his training and on the day.

To make a donation, visit Alex’s fundraising page.

Follow Alex @AlexCareyOC 

You can read more about Colin Grainger and Harry Kane on the BBC website.