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Following Fulham with a purpose: Cycle Fulham Away

You may have heard a bit about Cycle Fulham Away on social media. We sit down with the group so they can share their goals with us.

Morgan Calton is 32 and from London. He’s a film distributor who also works in a gym (Just pick one career Morgan, you’re making us look bad). He’s a Fulham fan, and working to bring up some important issues among a group that often doesn’t like to discuss these kinds of things.

Lee Adams is also 32, from Westminster (central London), and a proud father of 2 young lads 14 and 9. His working week is “helping make a difference to people's life.”

Sometimes it’s good to remember there’s more to life than football, and sometimes it’s good to remember that maybe football can be used to help others with life’s problems.

We sat down with Morgan and Lee to discuss Fulham, and their campaign to fight depression.

How long have you been Fulham fans and how long have you been going to away matches?

Morgan: I first started going to the Cottage as an 11 year old when my step dad took me to see us play his hometown team, Doncaster Rovers in the somewhat forgetful 95/96 season and then my 2nd game was the 7-0 dismantling of Swansea in the FA Cup 1st round, so there was no going back after even if I was obviously a glory hunter (and was thankfully young/naive enough to not be put off by subsequent results). My first away game came in the following promotion season, with the 2-0 away win at Orient (I think; it was almost 20 years ago so there's a chance I may have gone elsewhere but I'm pretty sure it was that!). Since then I've been here, there n' everywhere with the furthest trip from home being to see us beat Melbourne Victory 3-0 at their place...I was living in Sydney at the time so it was only an hour plane ride so not quite as far a trek as some may have made. Unfortunately living Down Under meant that I missed out on the European adventure, but I'd like to think I'll get a chance again. Someday. Hopefully.

Lee: I went to my first Fulham game in the very early '90s. My dad who is a Chelsea fan took me and my bother. It was Barnet at home, I think... I say that as my young eyes were glued to the green pole in the Hammersmith end all through the game. I fell in love with the club that day. I stated going to away games on my own when I was about 14, loved being with mates, and going to somewhere different.

What things contributed to you wanting to raise money and awareness for this cause?

Morgan: I've suffered from depression and anxiety for a number of years and while I’ve seen therapists and have been very open about it with my friends and family, I know that it’s something that others find extremely difficult to admit. Charities like CALM are fantastic at helping raise awareness of mental health issues and offer wonderful support for those that need it and often feel lost because they don’t feel they can share how they’re feeling with people around them.

Lee: I tried to take my own life 8 years ago. I went to see my GP as I 'wasn't me.' He told me 'take these pills and come see me soon.' I didn't want them, I wanted to open up and talk to someone other then family, friends, etc. So I have lived a lie for 8 years, always smiling etc... It wasn't me I would open sit in the dark and cry on my own.... I found out about CALM and knew right there and then this is what I needed... So I read up on facts etc and as alarmed at the facts regarding male suicide, I always thought I was only in my fight with myself. I then decided to walk from CC to reading for this charity and two others. I was blown away how CALM were not spoken about by GP's, the public etc... I never want make to feel the way I did, it was so lonely, sad and very upsetting. So thought, being a father of two wonderful lads I needed to make a stand, make them proud make them feel if needed to seek help

Why cycling? What gave you the idea of raising money through cycling to away games?

Morgan: I got involved in cycling a couple years ago when I started training for charity event that I’d come up with a friend of mine; we decided to ride from Hanoi in northern Vietnam all the way down to Singapore, which was around 2100 miles over 21 days. Again, that was raising money for a mental health Charity (Mind) and was a fantastic experience (even if it was a bit warm!). After finishing that I was always thinking about the next challenge and then I came across Lee’s idea back in May and got in touch with him to see if he needed a hand/company. Thankfully he did. I’d been thinking of trying to do something that linked cycling and Fulham so this came along at a perfect time! Cycling is also a great way of keeping fit, which is fantastic for managing your mental health as well as your physical.

Lee: After walking to Reading, 16 hrs over night in the cold, close to being killed in Virginia Water at about 2:30am; I thought sod this walking lark, what else can I do to keep fit and keep helping this charity... Then like every good English man I had a brain wave in my local pub, thought it over for all of about 20 seconds and said 'I will cycle to Fulham away games' I put it on Twitter and Morgs got in contact with me and we meet up for a chat (yes in a pub, ha ha) had a laugh, opened up to each other as to why this charity means so much to us. That was a good night to be fair ha ha ha.

What's the craziest thing that's happened to you on a trip? The hardest away ride that you have done?

Morgan: Well so far I’ve only done the Wigan away game (Lee did the first on his own), which was a proper challenge even before we started. We planned to meet at the Cottage at 5am, aiming to get out of London before rush hour kicked in…at 4.30am the heaven’s opened and half a month’s rain then proceeded to be dumped over the next few hours. Even before we’d got to the starting line, we were soaked through. Eventually we had to hide out in a McDonald's for a couple hours until it started to ease off seeing as there was flash flooding on the roads. After that it was relatively plain sailing (could’ve been literally if the water hadn’t cleared), although the Google Maps sat nav system did decide we should see all of Milton Keynes cycle lanes, which we could have done without!

Lee: Oooohhh there are a few, picking up a rabbit who ran onto the road with I was on my way to Preston. The old lady who into my path in Milton Keynes (madness). But like Morgs said, I think the rain (monsoon) really was the craziest thing on both trips. Hardest would be the last few miles into Wigan, I was cycling on one leg as I was carrying an injury, soon to be fixed and ready to get down to Brighton...

For others that want to get involved what's the best things that they can do?

If anyone does want to join us on a ride, feel free to message us either on Twitter (@cyclefulhamaway) or Like our Facebook page (Cycle Fulham Away). More the merrier! If you just want to chat about what we’re doing and share your experiences with mental health issues, then by all means do. It’s all about keeping the conversation going and helping end the stigma that is still associated with mental illness.