QPR in the Community Trust CEO Andy Evans was just four years old when he first laid his eyes on the Hoops of his now beloved Rangers.
He witnessed a goalless draw in W12, though by his own admittance he slept through much of the stalemate, but from that moment onwards he was hooked on the R’s.
Now – half a century later – he leads QPR’s hugely successful community programme and on what is the annual #EFLDayOfAction he has delved into his Rangers journey.
“Similar to so many QPR fans, I have got my Dad to thank for making me a Rangers supporter,” the Trust’s CEO told www.qpr.co.uk.
“When I was younger, my dad who was a bread salesmen would bring me to games. I distinctly remember that on Saturday mornings he would start work at 4am, so he could get the bread round done. We would then visit my Gran, who lived on the White City estate, and that would always result in us coming across the road to watch the game. That’s my earliest memories of falling in love with the club.
“My first real strong, emotional memory to the club came from the 1982 cup final run. Clive Allen scored and I just burst into tears when he scored and that whole feeling of excitement of getting to Wembley was just fantastic.”
After leaving school, working in sport was something Evans had always dreamed of and after completing his coaching badges, the club he loved gave him the opportunity that he had wished for.
He said: “I completed a sports studies course and, coupled with that, I started doing my FA Level One and Two coaching badges.
“I had this desire to work in sport and working for QPR seemed like a bit of a dream, really. First and foremost, I got a job in the Box Office and I couldn’t believe it, that I was actually working for my club.
“Maybe two years into that, the club decided that they were going to set up a football in the community scheme and because of my experience and qualifications I was one of four who got taken on as part of a football in the community programme back in the early 90s.
“There were only four full-time staff early on in those days the focus was very much about trying to find the next generation of QPR fans and also trying to identify any local talent that potentially we could direct into the centre of excellence, which it was then.
“The Trust has changed dramatically since then. It was very much about football development, compared to now where we are a lot bigger and provide a range of services to the local community.
“Now we play a much wide role within the local area. We reach as many people that live in the west London boroughs as possible and it’s about trying to engage with as many people as we can.
“The local area is forever changing. If you look at White City and how that has changed in the last ten years, the community is changing and we need to adapt to be able to appeal to the people who need the most help."
Since the Trust changed to become a charity in 2008, it has gone from strength to strength with over 37 full-time staff now being employed.
“Last year, we reached out to just under 30,000 individuals and we look back at when we became a charity and making that change has massively helped us to grow and develop.
“I have enjoyed every single day along the journey and I feel very privileged to be able to walk into this stadium every day and do something I genuinely feel passionate and care about.
The variety, breadth and depth of what we do keeps it so fresh and still now what our staff doing inspires me to keep ensuring that QPR and QPR in the Community Trust is a genuine community club and one that cares.”