I still recall the knee-scraping feeling every so often.
The moment came 25 years ago last month as Chelsea striker Paul Furlong netted a stoppage-time goal at QPR. A header I think. Jumping up to celebrate, both our knees made contact with the plastic rim of the seats in front of us at the compact Loftus Road. We cared not a jot as we both embraced. 2-1 to the Blues.
It was the last time I saw my friend Will Wates, together with his brilliant smile and warm, enthusiastic companionship on that cold January evening.
Later that year he was tragically killed outside the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, a victim of street crime.
He was 10 days away from returning home from Central America and starting out at Nottingham Uni as his 20s’ beckoned.
Twenty five years on his life is still celebrated thanks to the wonderful, tireless work of his family, who set up the William Wates Memorial Trust (WWMT) two years after his death.
Its aim has been to help disadvantaged teens through sport, arts and education; to fulfill their potential and keep away from street crime. Over the years we’ve heard talks from many inspiring charities and not-for-profits who have benefited from project grants.
Will would have given a seal of approval for each one.
Several million has also been raised through Le Loop, the exceptional charity cycling event – an offshoot of WWMT – which sets off annually a week before the Tour De France. I’ve taken part in two editions, attempting to ride seven stages across France and the UK. I’ve written several articles on the Tour here.
And so, thinking back to that away end evening exactly a quarter of century ago, came the mad lockdown idea of raising money for WWMT and to DJ solo for 24 hours non-stop. Spinning tracks not spokes seems less arduous than tackling Alpine cols – even if I will be on the decks for hours more than a stage in the saddle.
His life taken away needlessly and far too early, memory now has my 90s’ teen pal wearing his cherished leather jacket listening to INXS or Simple Minds (’25 years since they took that man away’ so Mandela Day goes).
Playing tracks for a whole day (starting this Saturday @ 1pm) does mean I can raise donations without leaving home. I last DJ’ed a decade ago, however, and keeping rhythm, mixing and mind in check uninterrupted will present its own challenges.
The set will be bookended by Harry J & The Allstars’ classic Liquidator, the track Chelsea players run out to at home games. In between, I’m relying on word of mouth over 24 hours this weekend to raise the WWMT profile. So, friends, set those Zoom house parties up. I’ll take track requests and, who knows, may even don some fancy dress.
Live streaming link will be here, on the fundraising link and my social channels on Saturday. You can play via mobile, laptop, or even link up to your TV.
To donate: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/willdj24hours
About WWMT: wwmt.rideleloop.org
How it will work
Using various bits of tech, occasional DJ software and turntable. So call this the mobile DJ of old, the days when Wonderstuff was mixed into Rozalla. I will be using an overlay mix and there will likely be a few mistakes and the odd bit of panic. But once in rhythm, there will be no stopping.
I will be covering 70s-90s classics, Northern Soul, funk, latin, indie, disco/deep and electronic house. Music for the soul. Do join!
Logo by Ed Way @ Anyway Creative