WITH their team having raised their performance level a gear or two at Luton this week, a group of York City supporters will get on their bikes for the club’s next away game against Northampton.

Twelve Bootham Crescent regulars - Ian Jones, Dan Waterworth, Ben Nicholson, Adam Livingston, Tom Poole, Joe Fletcher, Craig Atkin, Oli Stone, Robert Corker, Ash Taylor, Nathan Brigham and James Patterson - have decided to make the 180-mile journey on two wheels following the death of Cobblers fan David Henderson at last season’s corresponding fixture.

The 57-year-old died of a heart attack after the match at Sixfields despite the efforts of City supporter James Fox - a male nurse who administered CPR outside the ground.

Eleven of the dozen cyclists witnessed the tragic scene and Jones later felt compelled to organise some form of charity event in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

Said Jones: “We are doing it in memory of David Henderson who passed away after our game at Sixfields last season. All the riders taking part, bar one, witnessed the incident, as did David’s son from the back of his dad’s car.

“That really resonated with me because I grew up watching York City with my dad and he has played a major part in many aspects of my life. I just wanted to do something for the family by raising money for the British Heart Foundation.”

The influence for the bike ride idea came from a number of sources, including fellow City fan Simon Hood, who chronicled his tales of cycling to every one of the club’s matches during the 2009/10 season in his excellent Bicycle Kicks book to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Jones added: “I thought of the idea of a bike ride after watching the Tour de France go through Bootham and Blubberhouses.

There are a group of Portsmouth fans who do it every season. They are going from York to Fratton Park for the final game of the season.

“They raise a lot of money every year, so I thought why not do that?

We also took a lot of inspiration from Simon Hood to work out the best route. He has been really helpful.”

Splitting the journey into three legs of 68, 72 and 40 miles with overnight stays in Gainsborough and Market Harborough after leav - ing Bootham Crescent at 9am on Thursday morning, Jones will be attempting distances he has never gone close to on a saddle.

“We’ve got two keen cyclists but the rest of us are complete novices,” he laughed. “There has even been an argument this week about whether we should wear specialist cycling shoes.

“I bought a new bike last weekend because this is not the kind of thing you can just pull your old BMX out of the garage for, but I’ve only had about 30 seconds of practice.

"I did a little bit of training on my old mountain bike but the most I’ve done in a day is 17 or 18 miles, so 60 or 70 will be interesting and there might be a lot of swearing.

“We are seeing it as a bit of a health kick and the idea is to make this an annual event.”

City keeper Michael Ingham, meanwhile, has helped supply a support van, driven by Jones’ dad to follow the cyclists with refreshments and repair kits on board.

It will also transport the bikes back to North Yorkshire after the game while the cyclists return home in a minibus organised by Poppleton Executive Travel - the company of one-time ‘Yorkie The Lion’ Steve Ovenden.

Local businesses have already helped raise more than £900 through funds from a raffle, with the first prize a signed Lionel Messi shirt donated by City fan Andy Rogers.

With ex-Northampton striker David Longhurst having passed away on the pitch at Bootham Crescent from a heart condition in 1990, Jones also admitted: “The two incidents are a sad coincidence that have brought the clubs closer together. We also all stand in the Longhurst (the stand named in the former striker’s memory).”

Bucket collections will greet the cyclists’ 1.30pm arrival next week - end at Sixfields, where they will ride on to the pitch before kick-off.

Online contributions can be made by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/Ride2Northampton/

York Press:

GETTING A GRIP: City goalkeeper Bobby Oljenik is presented with his monthly award by supporter Ben Koro

MICHAEL COULSON has moved to within a point of The Press Player of the Year leader Keith Lowe.

The City attacker was our man of the match during Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Luton to collect three points towards the standings.

Stephane Zubar (two points) and Josh Carson (one) were also recognised for their efforts as The Press’ second and third-highest rated performers respectively.

Former Barnsley winger Coulson, meanwhile, received the two bonus points available to the Player of the Month contest after polling the most online man-of-the- match votes.

During last Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge, our points were shared between The Press man-of-the-match Bobby Olejnik (three), Malvind Benning (two) and Brad Halliday (one).

Benning bagged the bonus points.

To be in with a chance of presenting The Press Player of the Month prize for February before a home game, register your man-of-the-match vote for today’s game against Tranmere by visiting www.yorkpress.co.uk or tweeting @ daveflettpress

The Press Player of the Year standings: Lowe 22, Coulson 21, Penn 21, Ilesanmi 16, McCombe 14, Summer - field 14, McCoy 12, Olejnik 11, Hyde 10, De Girolamo 9, Ingham 8, Montrose 7, Straker 7, Zubar 7, Fletcher 6, Halliday 4, Carson 3, Cisak 3, Jarvis 3, Benning 2, Sinclair 2, Winfield 2.

The Press Player of the Month February standings: Coulson 5, Benning 4, Olejnik 3, Zubar 2, Carson 1, Halliday 1.

Goals: Hyde 6, Lowe 5, De Girolamo 4, Fletcher 4, Coulson 3, Carson 2, Sinclair 2, Summerfield 2, Penn 1, Winfield 1, Zubar 1.

Assists: Coulson 10, Hyde 4, McCoy 3, Meikle 3, De Girolamo 2, Penn 2, Carson 1, Fletcher 1, Lowe 1, McCombe 1, Montrose 1, Straker 1, Summerfield 1.

Bad boys: Penn one red, six yellow; McCoy four yellow; Halliday, Hyde both one red, two yellow; McCombe three yellow; Carson, Fletcher, Ilesanmi, Montrose all two yellow; Jarvis, Zubar both one red; Benning, Coulson, Lowe, Olejnik, Platt, Straker, Summerfield all one yellow.