Last week, Ebbsfleet United turned a flurry of social media back chat into a fundraising scheme, putting a unique Mambo number five jersey up for auction after calls for player Yado Mambo to wear it. Now, as one lucky bidder celebrates and the singer of the hit song praises the effort, the club’s vice chairman, whose prostate cancer experience inspired the move, tells us what it means to him.
Remember the 1999 Lou Bega hit Mambo No. 5? Well football fans watching a recent home match between Leyton Orient and Ebbsfleet United did. And they thought the National League side were missing a trick by placing defender Yado Mambo in the 18 jersey instead.
So the Kent club decided to get on the back of the banter to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK as Executive Vice Chairman Peter Varney (pictured above with Yado Mambo) recovers from surgery after being diagnosed with the disease two years ago.
By the time bidding closed on Thursday morning, the price had soared to £1,650, taking the overall amount generated this month to £3,500 and prompting Lou Bega to hail the effort, saying: “It was a wonderful and welcome surprise to hear about the fantastic work Ebbsfleet United Football Club are doing in the fight against prostate cancer – and I’m delighted to lend my support.
“It's great to know Yado Mambo is a fan of the song and I wish him, Peter Varney and everyone involved in this brilliant project well. Who knows, I might even come to watch a game soon.”
Peter, 63, said: “I was diagnosed with prostate cancer a couple of years ago but the cancer gradually became more aggressive and I had to have my prostate removed. I thought about not saying anything but the statistics are too shocking to stay silent.
What started out as a bit of fun will make a massive difference. Speaking as someone on the road to recovery, I’m so grateful for all the support.
“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, and 330,000 men are living with the disease, that’s more than 73 times the capacity of Stonebridge Road. And one man dies every 45 minutes, which is something we need to turn around. If you’re over 50, I would urge you to go and speak to your GP. Please don’t be like most men and put it off. Book a doctor’s appointment now. It might save your life."
“I’m incredibly touched and proud to see the amazing amount raised for Prostate Cancer UK following our unique shirt auction and donations from Ebbsfleet United supporters, players and sponsors.
“We wanted to give something back. What started out as a bit of fun will make a massive difference to people affected by this disease, and speaking as someone on the road to recovery, I’m so grateful for all the support. The football family never fails to step up in times like this and I’m really proud of the Ebbsfleet supporters that got behind this – and the wider public too – and to raise £3,500 in total was beyond anyone’s expectations.
“On behalf of me, and everyone affected by this disease, I say thank you.”
Ebbsfleet’s back-of-shirt sponsor GDM also contributed £1,000 after fans from Ebbsfleet and Leyton Orient raised more than £800 from a match day collection in the live-on-BT clash on November 11, a game that sparked the campaign.
Now in his third playing stint at Stonebridge Road, former Charlton Athletic youth product Yado, 26, admitted he has been amazed at the media attention after a fan suggested he should switch his 18 jersey to the quirkier digit after watching him in action against Orient.
The Colindale-based defender, who posed (above right) with the sought-after shirt with the club’s regular number five, David Winfield, said: “I know the song well, and have had shouts of ‘Mambo Number Five’ all through my playing career, so this is nothing new. But it’s never gone as extreme as this. It’s fantastic to see how much was raised, and I’m so happy to have played a part in also raising awareness of this disease.
“When I found out Lou Bega was supporting the incentive too, that blew me away. I’ve always loved the song and remember watching him perform it on Top of the Pops when I was younger. To hear he might come to a game and me get the chance to meet him is mad. I suspect the song will continue to follow me around even more now, but knowing it’s associated with such a great cause makes it massively worthwhile.
“Peter’s a very special guy and it’s brilliant to see how the club rallied in such a positive way, and drumming up knowledge about this dreadful disease has been a real eye-opener for me, and it’s something I will be actively supporting in the future. The more men we make aware of this disease the better.”
Prostate Cancer UK Director of Fundraising James Beeby added: “I take my hat off to everyone involved in this project from Ebbsfleet United and the wider football community. It’s been an overwhelming success and is a fantastic way to raise funds and awareness for Prostate Cancer UK.
“Ignoring prostate cancer will not beat it, and the money raised will fund ground-breaking research to help fight the disease. That will help us provide dedicated support and information to men and their families affected by this disease.
“One man dies from prostate cancer every 45 minutes; it’s the most common cancer in men, but we want to make prostate cancer a disease that the next generation of men do not fear. We thank everyone involved for joining the fight.”