Newmarket Racecourse to hold race day in memory of former West Ham United manager Glenn Roeder
Football legend Glenn Roeder will be remembered at Newmarket Racecourse on Saturday, when the entire card will be sponsored in support of the Brain Tumour Charity as part of a national fundraising initiative.
Roeder, a passionate supporter of racing, died in February last year at the age of 65, having been diagnosed with a brain tumour back in 2003 while managing West Ham United in the Premiership.
During a distinguished career, he played in defence for Arsenal, Leyton Orient, Queens Park Rangers, Notts County, Newcastle United, Watford and Gillingham, before managerial spells at Gillingham, Watford, West Ham and Newcastle United.
He also held a coaching role with Glenn Hoddle’s national squad.
Roeder’s funeral was held during lockdown, meaning many friends and former colleagues were unable to pay their respects as numbers were restricted. The race day has been organised by his family to give people a chance to reminisce about their old friend.
Roeder’s daughter Holly, who works as racing secretary to Newmarket trainer Robert Cowell, said: “Dad was passionate about his racing and loved being around racing people. A race day in his memory seemed an obvious and fitting way to celebrate his life, and we are extremely grateful to Newmarket Racecourses’ general manager, Sophie Able, and all our supporters who have come together to help raise vital funds for such an important charity.
“It has been a tough year since losing Dad, who battled so bravely and for so long after his diagnosis. A brain tumour can strike anyone at any time and if we can use this race day to highlight awareness and raise money to help fund research into understanding and treatments, hopefully we can reduce the suffering of families losing loved ones prematurely.”
She added: “When Dad passed away last year, we were only allowed 30 people at his funeral and we couldn’t do anything to celebrate his life, we weren’t even allowed to sing. But we knew that because Dad had enjoyed a football career of a high standard there would be a lot of people that wanted to say farewell and pay their respects. And we wanted to enjoy listening to what other people had to say about him, which we missed out on because of the restrictions around his funeral.
“At first we thought we might do a memorial but my mum, in particular, was not keen on that idea at all. So we thought that we would do something positive that would allow us to celebrate him and also raise money for the Brain Tumour Charity.”
The Brain Tumour Charity is a national organisation dedicated to funding research that will increase survival and improve quality of life for an estimated 88,000 children and adults in the UK affected by brain tumours.
Holly recalled how her father was diagnosed while managing the Hammers.
She said: “He had a fairly stressful season that year. It was a bit of a struggle and we were just going into a very important match. It was April, nearing the end of the season, and we needed to win, which we did. So, everyone thought that’s marvellous, brilliant. We were all celebrating and the next thing we knew he was in his office with his staff and out of the blue he just collapsed and no one knew why. There were no symptoms leading up to it and the doctor said it wasn’t stress related.”
Roeder was then put in an induced coma during which scans showed he had a brain tumour that needed to be operated on.
Holly said: “Obviously it was a shock but then you sort of cope with it, to the extent that he even walked himself down onto the theatre table to have the operation. That’s how much he just wanted to get it done and, and six weeks later he was back on the touchline. He was a pretty amazing character. Dad and I were really close and he hardly moaned about his health in all those 18 years, even going through scans every six months, radiotherapy, several rounds of chemotherapy and a second operation.
“I have to say he was a really strong character – very private and kept a lot to himself. But, you know, he never let his illness be an excuse for anything. He was that kind of character, an old-fashioned, stand up and be counted person. He was a great man in my eyes and the best dad you could wish for.”
On the day of the event there will be a live auction of memorabilia and ‘money-can’t-buy’ experiences which will take place during a VIP lunch in a dedicated marquee on Newmarket’s July course.
This will be augmented by an online silent auction, through which racing and football fans can bid for items by scanning the QR code in the day’s racecard.