Support former academy player James Barker's fundraiser


On Sunday, Charlton fan and former academy player James Barker, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy, will run the London Marathon.

The 25-year-old, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in January, played in the same youth teams at Charlton as Joe Gomez and Sean Clare between the ages of 12 and 14 and remains good friends with Clare.

He said: “I did a marathon last year in Paris which was great fun. I was in better nick than I am now just because of the treatment I'm on, but that's not to say I'm not going to finish it. I should be fine providing nothing goes drastically bad.

“I've been on radiotherapy but currently I'm on chemotherapy. I did struggle at the start; the radiotherapy was kind of rough logistically because I had to be in hospital every weekday for six weeks. The hospital is about an hour-and-a-half away from where I live, so there has been a lot of travelling. My dad has been unreal as far as helping me with everything goes - from driving me to hospital to looking at supplements to help me in my fight against cancer and the treatment for it. 

"I'm on the pill version of chemotherapy so I'm not going in for any treatment. It's not all that bad but it definitely gets to me and takes it out on my legs. Last year I ran a lot obviously with the marathon and other bits and pieces. I was able to run seven days a week without much of a problem but now I can probably only run a couple times a week at a decent pace because my legs get drained. I think it's either the chemotherapy or I'm just really unfit.”

James is running for Teenage Cancer Trust. He explained: “I know of all the work they do and it will help so many youngsters in their fight against cancer.”

Supporters can contribute to James’ fundraising by clicking here.

James was part of a star-studded academy team that included Gomez, Clare, Kasey Palmer (now at Coventry City), Charlie Colkett (now of Crewe Alexandra) and rapper Swarmz.

Barker alongside his academy team-mates - including Joe Gomez

Whether it is in the crowd, or watching on television, Clare will be supporting his former teammate on Sunday. James said: “Sean is like a brother to me, he's just the nicest guy. I came to a game the other week and Sean got me tickets, which was very kind of him. I am close with his dad who is as big a legend as Sean is.

“We were walking and someone had a Clare shirt on and I said, ‘he is a good lad’ and he replied, ‘I heard he is the nicest guy ever’ and I was like ‘yes, I can testify for that’. We met through the academy and he would come down by the sea where I live in Kent.

“I had been keeping in contact with him, bits and pieces throughout his career, and it's been nice with him coming back to Charlton.”

Barker performs Sean Clare's celebration with a friend at The Valley

Asked whether he was looking forward to Sunday’s test, James said: “It should be fine because I'm not necessarily going after a time to finish within. I should be okay but it's going to be a struggle. The furthest I have run in training is 30km so I have still got another 12 after that, so it's going to be an interesting day. I'm looking forward to it. I'm a little bit nervous but I think that's a good thing!”

Everyone at the club would like to wish James all the very best on Sunday. 

(Transcription by Alex Forrest)

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