Exclusive: Steph Houghton on Phil Parkinson's fine gesture and Sunderland's promotion hopes

Steph Houghton has revealed how she and husband Stephen Darby remain ‘close’ with Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson - as he prepares to help raise funds for Darby’s charity.

Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 10:41 am

Parkinson and assistant Steve Parkin are set to embark on a 180-mile cycle challenge in a bid to help the Darby Rimmer Foundation - the charity set up by Darby after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2018.

The duo raised £25,000 from a similar event last summer, and have already seen donations swell towards the £5,000 mark as they prepare to do it all again in May.

And Houghton has revealed how she and her husband remain close with Parkinson and Parkin - with the duo having been near-constants in Darby’s footballing career.

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“Phil managed my husband at Bradford and Bolton and we’re still close,” she explained, speaking exclusively to the Echo.

“Stephen messages them all the time saying ‘good luck’ and gives him a bit of stick when they’re not doing so well because all my family are Sunderland fans!”

Houghton herself is an avid Sunderland fan too, and is delighted to see results improving under Parkinson.

And she remains hopeful that the Black Cats will be in contention for a finish in the top two come the end of the season.

England captain Steph Houghton - an avid Sunderland fan - remains close with Phil Parkinson

“I think we always knew that Parky would pick up results and it’s great to see them climbing the table,” she added.

“Hopefully by the end of the season they are there or thereabouts.”