A RAMSBOTTOM soldier is among a group cycling and running more than 1,300 miles this week to deliver the match ball for the Super League Grand Final.

Andrew Walton, who lives in Church Street, has been planning the extreme challenge for three years.

The 39-year-old, who also coaches the Bury Broncos under-11s team, is travelling with a group of soldiers, all of whom are members of the Royal Dragoon Regiment, but cannot take part himself due to an injury picked up in preparation.

They set off from Stade Gilbert Brutus, home of Challenge Cup holders Catalans Dragons, in Perpignan, France, last Saturday, and hope to visit the grounds of all 12 Super League clubs before Sunday.

After setting off from the south of France, the group have been cycling through France and Belgium over the past few days, including stopping to lay wreaths at Ypres and Amiens.

They then travelled by ferry from Zeebrugge to Hull, and arrived on home soil yesterday morning.

The next leg of their trip began at Craven Park, the home of Hull Kingston Rovers, before stops at Hull FC’s KCOM Stadium, the Jungle, home of Castleford Tigers, and Wakefield Trinity’s Belle Vue ground.

Today, the regiment begun their challenge at Headingley Stadium, home of reigning Super League champions Leeds Rhinos, before heading to Huddersfield Giants’ Kirklees Stadium and then crossing the Pennines to Wigan Warriors’ DW Stadium and finishing up at league leaders St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium.

Tomorrow, they will start at Halton Stadium, home of Widnes Vikings, before travelling to Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium, and the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford, with the challenge coming to an epic close when the regiment deliver the match ball for the Super League Grand Final between Wigan and Warrington at Old Trafford in Manchester in time for kick-off at 6pm.

Sergeant Walton said the challenge will cover around 1,300 miles.

He said: “I am due to leave the military next year after 23 years, so I wanted to give something back.

“I had the idea in my head and it seemed like a crazy idea, but then I spoke to my friends and they were all really up for it.

“I wanted people to realise how fit and versatile the military is.

“I am a big Rugby League fan so I approached Super League and sat down with them and they thought it was a great idea.

“I am actually injured at the minute so my physios have put a blanket over me and said I can’t do it. The boys are doing all the hard work for me."

The group are also raising money for the Army Benevolent Fund – The Soldier’s Charity, and have raised more than £1,250 of their £5,000 target.

To support the troops and to donate £5, text ‘RDGC79 £5’ to 70070, or visit justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-walton22.