A FUNDRAISING bike ride for former Wanderers defender Stephen Darby took a wrong turn on its 136-mile route – but still recovered to raise around £25,000 for research into Motor Neurone Disease.

Wanderers boss Phil Parkinson, assistant Steve Parkin and chief scout Tim Breacker were in the 11-strong party embarking on the ‘Coast to Coast’ journey from Workington to Cockermouth at the weekend.

Directions went awry on day one as the team rode away from Cumbria but, course corrected, Parkin was pleased to say the rest of the trip went without a hitch.

“We managed to get lost on the first day, which added another 12 miles or so to the journey, so the mood was a little bit more subdued that night.” he said.

“But spirits picked up quickly, we got a great day’s work in on Saturday and had a nice meal at the end of the day.

“All that training paid off in the end and we all got back safely, which was a really good effort, but most importantly we managed to raise some money for Stephen’s foundation.”

More than £20,000 was raised via JustGiving, which when combined with the money picked up along the route and other donations gives Darby a good start to his new venture.

The former Liverpool and Bradford City star was diagnosed with MND in September last year and shortly after his retirement set about creating a foundation to help others.

“Stephen missed us at the very start but caught up with us later and he was really emotional at the thought people had rallied around and raised this sort of money,” Parkin said.

“We got back to the Sherwood Ranger pub, where we’d come up with the idea, and had a bit of a party – and Stephen Facetimed us to say thanks.

“It meant a lot to him to see supporters from all over football – but especially Bolton, Bradford and Liverpool – come together and give him that support.”

After a difficult season at Wanderers, Parkin hopes some clarity will soon be given by administrators on the pay situation which has affected all staff at the club.

But the ‘Coast to Coast’ ride has given him a chance to get some good news out on behalf of Bolton.

“It has been tough, really tough, and I just hope we can find out what is happening now,” he said. “But the whole experience with the rise and fundraising has been wonderful.

“It felt very much like being part of a team again. A few of us are ex-players and that kind of man and bike versus the hill challenge brought that out of you again.

“The 11 lads who were with us were terrific and so were the two who gave us support all the way along – I have to thank every one of them.”