Gary Rowett: Birmingham City manager on marathon mission

Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett signs autographs prior to his successful return to Derby with Blues in January
Blues manager Gary Rowett signs autographs prior to a win at his former club Derby in January

Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett is to run in the London Marathon to raise money for a meningitis charity, just two games from the end of promotion-chasing Blues' season.

Rowett will be running the 26.2-mile course on 24 April, less than 24 hours after play-off hopefuls Blues' Championship fixture at Huddersfield.

He will be running with Becky Doyle, wife of ex-Blues keeper Colin Doyle.

They will raise money for the Liam's Smiles charity, set up by Mrs Doyle.

She founded the charity to support other families who see their children go through the same life-threatening condition as her son Liam, now five, who was only weeks old when he contracted meningitis.

Doyle is no longer at the club, having left to play for Blackpool last summer, but the former Blues goalkeeper's son's progress is sufficient incentive for Rowett to keep on running.

"When you see children suffering from these illnesses, you realise there are a lot more important things in life than just football," Rowett told BBC WM. "I've got four kids, they're all healthy, and God help it stays that way.

"This is something I've wanted to do for a while. When you're in a public position where people listen to you, sometimes you have to use that for the benefit of something.

"I know there are a lot of good charities out there, but we could make a real difference. It's a cause that we're close to. If we had 20,000 there for a game at St Andrew's and 16,000 of them are Blues fans, if every fan gave a quid, then you're talking about £16,000 just from one game."

It's a marathon, not a sprint!

Rowett's only problem is to keep his training programme as well timed as his side's promotion bid, which had been progressing nicely with a six-match unbeaten league run until Saturday's 2-1 home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday.

That was Blues' first defeat since losing on Boxing Day, also against the Owls, dropping his side back to eighth in the table.

"I have to make sure I don't take my eye off what we're doing here. But I've got up to 16 miles now," said Rowett, 41.

"I did the Leicester one four years ago and I'm a little bit ahead of that, but I did my 16-mile run on Sunday and it was hard going. I got to 12 and crumbled for some reason.

"But I remember coming in one day and saying how sore my knee was and Becky telling me a few more stories and I just thought I'd better shut up, stop moaning and get on with it."

Rowett going nowhere for now

As a former Derby County player, highly-rated Rowett was quickly linked with the managerial vacancy created by Paul Clement's surprise sacking by the Rams on Monday.

He has already been the subject of media speculation following similar vacancies this season at two other Championship sides, Fulham and Charlton Athletic.

"To see Gary Rowett's name linked with the Derby vacancy is absolutely inevitable," said BBC WM's Richard Wilford.

"He played there for several seasons, he lives near the city and his son is a big-time Rams fan. He will also have impressed the Derby hierarchy with the manner of Blues' 3-0 triumph there last month.

"However, Rowett may well feel obliged to see out the season at St Andrew's, not least given his squad's continuing flirtation with the play-off places, and given his pledge to stay on after considering the Fulham job."

Top Stories