Kevin Sinfield has completed the mammoth task of running seven marathons in seven days and has raised over £1.9 million for research into Motor Neurone Disease in the process.
The Oldham-born former professional rugby player – who captained Leeds Rhinos in the Super League for 18 years from 1997 – 2015, and now acts as the club’s Director of Rugby since 2018 – was inspired to take on the challenge for his close friend, and long-time Leeds Rhinos teammate, Rob Burrow, who is suffering with MND having been diagnosed last year.
The disease is currently incurable and so, in the hopes of contributing to a breakthrough in research, Kevin – nicknamed “Sir Kev” – set out on Tuesday 1st December for his first marathon.
After seven gruelling days, he finally completed the challenge Monday morning.
The initial fundraising target was set at £77,777 – a nod to the number seven shirt that Burrow wore for Leeds during his 17-year rugby league career – but once word got out, donations soon came flooding in from all across the country to see the official JustGiving page pass the £1 million mark as he crossed the finish like in Saddleworth.
“It’s unbelievable and I’m so happy we got it done. After the first day I did worry we’d bitten off more than we could chew, but the donations and the support just fuelled us.”
After getting up in the early hours of the morning to run in snow, sleet, wind and darkness, it was all made worth it by the donations and well-wishes he and his support team received along his way. He added: “My wife asked me if someone offered to double it would you do it again? And in an instant I said: ‘Yeah, absolutely,”
“I’m busted and broken now, but it’s what mates do: they look after each other.
“The group, our team, have been such a special group. We are just six mates trying to make money for Rob and, without being able to go away because of COVID, this has been our holiday. The camaraderie has been unreal. We’ll miss waking up tomorrow to get ready to go again, and in a couple of years we’ll look back with a great deal of pride.”
Rob Burrow and his family were waiting for Sinfield at Headingley Stadium in Leeds on Saturday as he completed the fifth of his marathons, in an incredible time of three hours and 43 minutes.
Sinfield said that seeing his friend was almost too much for him to deal with at the time.
“When I ran into Headingley and I saw him, I didn’t stop straight away because I would have been a mess. I had a minute to gather myself but for him to be here was really, really special.” he said.
Burrow also sent a message to his pal ahead of the final marathon on Monday, saying: “You continue to inspire me and make me never want to give in. Like you I will take one step at a time, and maybe there isn’t a finish line for me but I will keep on going.
“One more mate, I know you will do it. Good luck friend, I’m with you every step.
“Everyone needs a friend like Kev.”
What a truly inspirational story.
You can donate to Kevin Sinfield’s official JustGiving page here.
Despite the cynics, Man United mop up Premier League’s manager and player of the month awards for September
As many disillusioned fans were expecting, Manchester United made a shaky start to the Premier League season. However, they look to have gathered some form and momentum over recent weeks.
So much so, in fact, that after having strung together four wins on the bounce – two coming in big games against long-standing rivals Liverpool and Arsenal, no less – they have won both September’s manager and player of the month awards.
Netting two goals and a pair of important assists to go with them, the 24-year-old looks to finally be breaking his duck and underlying confidence issues.
A big goal in the derby against Liverpool and in the 3-1 victory over high-flying Arsenal has no doubt helped lift his spirits.
Man United fans will be hoping this is just the start of a Rashford renaissance.
Moreover, even beyond his direct goal contributions, Rashford’s all-around play looks to be returning to pre-slump levels, playing a key role in the transition and a more fluid forward line.
It seems like the United no. 10 is benefitting from a new way of playing or, perhaps more accurately, a new manager who clearly sees him as a key player in his system.
It’s clear that Erik ten Hag‘s approach hasn’t just benefitted the likes of Rashford and, say, Sancho but the team looks more well-organised as a whole. Earlier this month, Bruno Fernandes gave fans a bit more of an insight into the Dutch coaches ‘strict rules’ and discipline.
Not only have they kept clean sheets in three out of the last six games across all competitions but there has been a noticeable improvement in both passing and possession stats since he arrived, whilst still being able to sacrifice some of the ball for a more counter-attacking set-up went the game calls for it.
That being said, it is a long old season and many fans will still need some convincing that the squad is good enough to take them back to a competitive level.
Even the man himself isn’t getting too carried away just yet.
Nevertheless, both the panel of experts and those deciding via public vote seem to think his efforts over the last month are worthy of recognition, earning manager of the month alongside his once again firing forward.
This is the first time a United player and manager have scooped the monthly double since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s award in February 2019, who also won it alongside Rashford.
Accolades aside, ten Hag’s patience and pragmatism should serve the team well over the next few weeks, as United still have a challenging run-in.
As well as the Manchester derby on Sunday, their next four games include a home fixture against a growing Newcastle side, Conte’s high-flying Spurs and a Chelsea squad with more than enough quality to end their bad run of results.
Manager and player of the month aside, it’s about getting points on the board and his weekend is massive for Man United’s 22/23 campaign.
Football fans slam rail services after complaints of no derby day trains from London to Manchester
With derby day approaching, Manchester United and City fans are making their arrangements big fixture and while local Mancunians should be fine, people travelling from elsewhere look to be in a bit of bother.
More specifically, United and City fans living in London (yes, we know the joke) will have some trouble making their way up for the game if they’re travelling by public transport due to the ongoing rail strikes.
Sports writer Barney Ronay shared an exasperated tweet explaining how there are seemingly “no trains to Manchester from London for City v United this Sunday”, arguing that the overall “fan experience is so terrible now some are having to give up”.
He goes on to identify this as symptomatic of the “horrendous state of infrastructure killing away days” and even went so far as to diagnose the modern matchday as almost “masochistic”.
Plenty of fans who travel to see their respective clubs echoed his thoughts, commenting that the regular drama of “changed dates/hotels not refunding etc it is becoming too expensive for many” and that even outside of reasonable strike action, matchday services are difficult to plan around.
It is severely affecting away days. Supporting Altrincham in the National League, 14 clubs in the South. No trains due to industrial action is fair enough but outside of that its still really hard work to sort out & not financially viable for many to buy walk up off peak tickets.
Many of those commenting on the thread also clarified that despite tickets being displayed as ‘sold out’ or ‘unavailable’ online, this often isn’t true and it’s more a case of there being no seats left to reserve.
However, just as many were quick to respond that this offers little help to those who need to have a reliable plan for commuting back and forth, even more so when it comes to midweek games or those scheduled on a Sunday like this week’s Manchester derby.
Moreover, others rightly noted that very few people are in a financial position where they are able to buy an expensive face-value ticket on the day on the half-chance they might be able to squeeze onto a packed train and stand for more than two hours.
As was to be expected, plenty of people also took to ridiculing the tweet and the two clubs, advising to simply “support your local team” and so on. It was also pointed out that a United fan travelling to the match from London, for instance, isn’t exactly what most fans would dub an ‘away day’.
Nevertheless, even those travelling on ‘proper’ away days couldn’t help but agree with the overarching point, with many citing that they regularly spend upwards of £100-150 just getting to their destination.
Any travelling football fan will know – especially those coming to and from London – it’s an expensive habit this football lark and even after you make it to wherever the game is that day, you’re still forking out more for food, drink and perhaps even additional transport to the ground.
Beyond those strictly hoping to catch the Manchester derby, most seem to agree with the strikes and suggested that more needs to be done to combat “the government’s assault on living standards, terms and conditions, pensions” which are subsequently impacting matchday travel year-round.