Rocastle Remembered - 100 years and still going strong!

Last updated : 20 October 2003 By Dr. Headgear
On the 11th of September the team’s 375 members donated a fantastic 166 days of computing time, pushing us past the century mark. That’s the equivalent of running the cancer research program on a single computer (of today’s standards!), non-stop, since 1903. The amount of lab-work this has replaced is incalculable, an impossible number of man-millennia for any organisation to provide. We dedicate our efforts to the memory of David "Rocky" Rocastle, who played football for England, Arsenal, Leeds, Manchester City, Chelsea, Norwich City and Hull City. Because we remember we'd like you to think back to Saturday March the 31st, 2001:

The same scene is being played out up and down the country. Wherever football fans are gathered (and being a normal footballing Saturday that’s most of the country) the same exchange is taking place in muted tones:

"Have you heard?"
"Heard what?"
"David Rocastle died this morning."

There is a moments pause in the conversation, and suddenly the day's match seems ever so slightly less important, the world a slightly sadder place and we are reminded of life's cruelties and injustices. David Rocastle was just 33 years old when he died, and father to three young children.

Then people began to remember. They remembered a young man, with the number 7 on his back, gliding through defences, snapping into tackles and spraying the ball about as if he was born to play football. They remembered a player whose elegance on the pitch was matched by his tenacious tackling, a player who played football as it was meant to be played. They remembered a player who was one of the most naturally gifted of his generation, but whose modesty and character always shone through.

Nowhere was this scene more poignant than at Highbury, where Rocky had come up through the youth system and had played his best football. For Arsenal fans Rocky was one of the true heroes of Arsenal, a player who was one of their own and who had a reputation for always having time for the fans. At Highbury Rocky was universally loved as both man and footballer.

Though a minute’s silence was held at many stadia that afternoon it was at Highbury that fans were reduced to floods of tears. Archrivals Tottenham were visiting that day, and their fans were impeccable in observing the silence and paying their respects. No less than five of the Arsenal players on the pitch had played in the same Arsenal team as Rocky, several of them had played with him since their days in the youth team. For some of them Rocky wasn't just a teammate, but a good friend as well. The emotions of these players (Lee Dixon was visibly grieving when Rocky's image came up on the big screens) and the Highbury faithful seemed to rub off on the rest of the team that day. Pires in particular seemed to understand what the number 7 on his back meant, and it was fitting that he scored Arsenal's first goal that day in a style Rocky would have been proud of.

Rocky was struck down by non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, which attacks the immune system. True to character Rocky fought his illness every step of the way, but alas to no avail. Until there is a cure for cancer his story, though less public, will be repeated by tens of thousands around the world, every day.

That’s where comes in. In collaboration with the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and the National Foundation for Cancer Research in the US runs a distributed computing project that performs billions of chemical calculations. These calculations are aimed at identifying molecules with a possible role in future cancer research. The sheer number of molecules that the project is able to scan would be impossible. The project relies on a network of private individuals donating their computer's idle processing power to running a small computational chemistry program. The program runs in the background and only uses your computers spare power - so it doesn't interfere with your normal work or play. By harnessing these spare resources the project is able to perform a vast amount of calculations, more even than a supercomputer could provide. The program is free and can be downloaded from

Those participating in the project can join teams to pool their results - David Rocastle Remembered is one such team. The team is made up of football fans from around the world, representing many different football clubs. Together we honour his memory by pooling our spare processing power to fight cancer. Since it was founded by Neil Donovan just a few days after Rocky's death we have contributed a full century of processing time and returned almost 70,000 results to the central database. So a big thank you to all members, and keep up the good work. To those that haven’t yet joined: Go for it! Join in and help us add another century to the project, in Rocky’s name.

You can find out more about the team and the project at our homepage on or from our stats page at

We are always ready to welcome new members!