Ex-Crystal Palace captain and leukaemia survivor Geoff Thomas returned to a near capacity Selhurst Park on Saturday 2 April to launch his campaign to raise awareness of the need for new treatments for blood cancers, which are the biggest cause of cancer death in the under 40s.
Thomas is working with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research to ‘give blood cancer the red card’, a project to inspire people to use football to help beat blood cancer.
The crowd of over 19,000, Palace’s biggest of the season, showed their support by raising the red cards as the players were accompanied on to the pitch by mascots, who included two local children in remission from leukaemia.
Geoff Thomas said: “It was a great day and I’m really grateful to the fans who all got behind the campaign and helped to make it such a success. I have great memories of Selhurst Park and I always enjoy coming back and meeting fans and everyone involved in the club. The club have been so supportive of the whole ‘give blood cancer the red card’ campaign and I know that the awareness and money raised will help make a real difference.”
Over 1,000 fans texted to donate £2 to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research on the day however people can still donate £2 for research into blood cancers by texting GEOFF to 70099. Standard network rates apply and lines close on 14 April.
The Eagles legend saw Crystal Palace pick up a vital three points in the 2-1 Championship victory over Barnsley, who he also played for during his career.
Palace’s sponsors, the logistics company GAC, generously offered for their logo to be replaced with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research’s as the main shirt sponsor on the day. The one-off match shirts worn by the players, which include a special ‘Thomas’ number 8 shirt, will now be auctioned online by Crystal Palace to raise more money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
Phil Alexander, Chief Executive of Crystal Palace said: "The club were absolutely delighted to see the tremendous support that the campaign received on Saturday. I would like to thank the fans of both clubs for the way in which they supported both financially and visually with the showing of the cards before kick-off to help spread the message. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our club sponsors, GAC Logistics, for giving up the prime space on the front of the players' shirts on the day to give further awareness to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. The shirts themselves will be put up for auction in the coming days with all proceeds going to Geoff's charity.
"This is only the start of the club's work with the campaign and we have some more exciting initiatives which we are working alongside Geoff on to ensure the funds continue to rise to help the research for Football v Blood Cancer."
Geoff was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2003, less than a year after hanging up his boots. He received a life-saving stem cell transplant from his sister in 2004 and has been in remission ever since. Geoff is now working with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research to make sure blood cancer patients have access to effective new treatments as quickly as possible.