Wealdstone star Godfrey will shave off his beard to raise money for Great Ormond Hospital
PUBLISHED: 15:53 07 January 2015 | UPDATED: 16:00 07 January 2015
Wealdstone’s Elliott Godfrey will part with his beloved beard this week in aid of a lifelong friend.
The former AFC Wimbledon star has sported facial hair all season and has been reluctant even to trim it recently for fear of jinxing Stones’ now 11-game unbeaten run.
However, the razor will now be out win or lose in the aftermath of this Saturday’s FA Trophy last-32 clash at home to Bath City after the 31-year-old revealed the daughter of a footballing mate since primary school, Mark Leach, has recently been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Godfrey was born in Canada, but he and Leach met at school in Hemel Hempstead while both were still in short trousers.
They played Sunday football together and, although their careers have taken different paths since then, the bond between the two playground mates has remained.
Consequently, when the midfield general, himself a dad, heard Leach’s daughter Bella, just three, had been struck down with the life-threatening condition, he was immediately keen to help fundraising for Great Ormond Street where the toddler is undergoing treatment.
He said: “This situation helps put the game of football into perspective. You reflect on the fact that we as a group of players, myself included have all been moaning about the schedule of games over Christmas, having to haul ourselves onto the pitch four times in eight days or whatever the schedule has been.
“Then I speak to Mark and find he and his wife Abbey have not been outside the hospital at Great Ormond Street in two weeks and it gives you a new way of looking at things.
“As a three-year-old, this Christmas is the first one Bella would have really found herself excited about and then she finds herself stuck in hospital like this. I have a four-year-old myself so you kind of count your blessings when you realise how valuable those people are to you and how fortunate you are.
“She is reacting well and she is in the best place so hopefully she is going to be fine. I just want to donate all I can to help and my way, simple as it is, will be to take off the beard.”
Leach and his wife Abbey have taken the hair removal a stage further in their own fundraising efforts, having their heads shaved – something which has already raised in excess of £3000.
Godfrey admits he was initially taken aback by the radical step, but once parenting logic kicked in it made perfect sense.
He said: “We were talking about them shaving their heads and at first you think that is amazing.
“Then you realise you would do it regardless if your little girl was in that situation and not really understanding what is going on, because you are making the situation normal for them or as normal as it can be.
“It is a simple choice once you realise it is not about you. It is about your little girl and you just do what you have to do.”
With regard to matters on the field, the cup clash with Bath will be something of a decider, with Stones having avenged their early season league defeat at The Vale with victory at Twerton Park just before Christmas.
The festive period itself has yielded four draws in a row and, while Godfrey admits Stones have been far from fluent, he insists there can be no questioning the team’s stomach for battle.
He added: “If you go back two or three months our bottle was the very thing being questioned, but things have gone full circle where there is resilience about us.
“From the starting XI to the subs, everyone is putting their bodies on the line.
“It would be different if only one or two were doing it and then looking around to see the rest coming off without a speck of mud on them, but that does not happen here.”
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