Hull FC legend Tony Duke speaks about dementia diagnosis amid fundraising drive

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The family of former Hull FC star Tony Duke has paid tribute to fellow ex-players who are cycling 100 miles in aid of dementia charities.

The 76-year-old was a member of the famous Black and Whites team that lifted the 1982 Challenge Cup towards the end of a 15-year playing career in which he made more than 200 appearances.

Speaking to ITV News, Duke, who was diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease in 2020, spoke of his love for the sport as his ex-clubmates cycled from Hull to St Helens.

"As soon as it comes on here it’s on and I sometimes go and watch Hull," he said. "You never forget those times, they’re in here all the time, and it’s special when you’re watching rugby."

Hull FC star Tony Duke Credit: Family Photo

He has been receiving support from family members and former teammates over recent years and is one of around half a dozen ex-Hull FC players and coaches known to be living with the condition.

His daughter Julie Sole accompanied him to the ceremonial start of the bike ride, which arrived in St Helens in time for last night's Super League game between the two sides.

The Big Bike Ride, which is being undertaken by 20 members of the Hull FC Ex-Players Association, has so far raised more than £11,000 for charity.

Ms Sole said: “We really do believe in what they’re doing. When you’ve got family of yours that have got that problem (dementia) it means that much to you.

“As soon as somebody talks rugby he’s off, he can remember rugby like it’s yesterday and if I ask where did you go yesterday he can’t remember."

Craig O'Donnell, former Hull FC player, is among those taking part in the bike ride. He added: “It’s a serious condition and it needs looking into and I think the game is starting to take it more seriously."

The fundraiser comes after a committee of MPs called for safety reforms from the Government and sporting authorities last year following an inquiry into concussion in sport.

For further information on the fundraiser click here.