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Kindhearted QPR favorite Andy Sinton is leading the way, working with the club’s community trust

ANDY SINTON is best remembered for a playing career during which he was capped 12 times for England and played for QPR, Sheffield Wednesday and Tottenham in the top flight.

The former midfielder, 56, also used to play for Cambridge and Brentford and finished his professional playing days at Wolves before playing outside the league at Burton, Bromsgrove and Fleet.

QPR Ambassador Andy Sinton took part in a group walk to raise money for the club's Down Syndrome team

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QPR Ambassador Andy Sinton took part in a group walk to raise money for the club’s Down Syndrome teamPhoto credit: Rex

But now he is actively and passionately giving back to a game that has served him and his fans well by being an Ambassador for the QPR Club and working with their Community Trust.

On Saturday he was part of an army of 60 walkers – including Rs legend Marc Bircham – who strolled from Craven Cottage across the banks of the Thames to Loftus Road before QPR hosted Fulham in the Championship.

They were raising money for club QPR Tiger Cubs’ Down Syndrome team – to kick off the EFL’s annual Week of Action – an excellent program running through Friday, with all 72 clubs showcasing the work they do in their communities.

But trust me, this isn’t some sort of annual check-off — clubs actively run programs virtually every day of the year, which often goes unnoticed.

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In the turbulent times caused by Covid, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the cost of living crisis, there has never been a greater focus on the EFL’s work behind the scenes to support those in need.

Sinton admits he was “emotionally suffocated” and “humiliated” by some of the work – no more than in the dark days of lockdown when QPR launched a phone support project called R You OK?

He told me: “I’ve called fans around me who have sadly lost a loved one or had someone dear to them in the hospital or struggling with the furlough system or losing their job.

“Some of the calls were very challenging. I’ve even spoken to people who have themselves been told they only have days or weeks to live!

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“Sometimes I broke off the phone and ended up choking. I felt privileged and humbled to be able to comfort people in difficult times.

“Everyone has been affected by the pandemic in some way – even footballers have been.

“They faced some of the same issues, like not being able to see their family, or having elderly, vulnerable relatives, or worried about sending their children to school because of the risk of bringing the virus back.

“I became a first-time grandfather and couldn’t see my granddaughter while my wife had elderly parents. Everyone had their own story to tell.

“But if there was one good thing that has come out of the pandemic, it has been the work clubs across the country have been doing for their communities during this time.”

Saturday’s fundraiser was the 12th heat for the Tiger Cubs.

WALK THIS WAY

Previous events have included walks to Crystal Palace – or from the training ground to Loftus Road to coincide with a home game.

Sinton says time flies when he can speak to supporters about his own era, the present day, or just life in general.

He said: “I always feel so privileged to work for the club – because we groan and moan about certain things, but there are so many people who have far worse issues and that puts everything into perspective.

“Look at these tiger cubs. Despite their difficulties, they just keep going. It’s so humbling and an honor to be a part of it.”

The Tiger Cubs themselves joined the walkers for the latter part of the journey and were also welcomed onto the pitch at half-time.

Sinton said: “I know it’s very hard for so many people given the cost of living crisis – but I’m asking if the public can dig as deep as they can.

TIME OF GIVING

“The funds will fund things like refreshments for the children and outings so they have something to look forward to. Every pound counts.”

Harnessing the power of football, EFL clubs invest an impressive £59m a year in their communities and reach out to some of society’s most vulnerable.

Some of the events include Wigan hosting a football session for Afghan refugees and Cardiff running a project supporting armed forces veterans who are at high risk of social isolation and loneliness.

Bolton supports young adults at risk of crime while Sheffield Wednesday helps families in shelters.

Portsmouth hosts a football session for amputees, Coventry helps those with dementia or those with cognitive impairments get more active and Luton hosts four Fit Fans sessions to promote healthier living in the community.

Lincoln Chief Executive Liam Scully said, “The hours put in by our clubs, community organizing teams and volunteers show an unwavering commitment to improving life across the country – building stronger, healthier and more active communities.”

WE CAN BE SO PROUD

The fact that SUTTON reached the Papa John’s Trophy final yesterday is one of the greatest fairy tales in English football.

For Matt Gray’s side to be in a Wembley final in their first-ever EFL season AND battling for a place in League One is the result of a club that has been superbly run for years.

When you look at huge clubs like Premier League founder Oldham struggling to survive and bigger teams like Notts County, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield, Grimsby and Southend being relegated to the National League, it just goes to show that size doesn’t matter.

All these so-called big clubs have been mismanaged while the U’s – despite yesterday’s extra-time loss to Rotherham – have slowly built their club over decades, never straying from their community roots and spending money within their means.

You are an honor for football.

CHAMPING ON THE BIT

IF FURTHER proof is needed that the Championship is one of the biggest leagues in the world, take a look at the table as we enter the final month of the season.

Half of clubs can still dream of playing in the Premier League in August.

I don’t know of any division in the world that is so competitive and consistently inconsistent.

Buckle up, this final lap is going to be one hell of a ride.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/football/premier-league/5043067/qpr-andy-sinton-community-trust-efl-week-of-action/ Kindhearted QPR favorite Andy Sinton is leading the way, working with the club’s community trust

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