COMMUNITY spirit is alive and kicking after a generous donation helped a junior football club overcome mindless vandalism.

Eccleshill United Football Club was left disheartened earlier this month after a digger they had borrowed to improve facilities was damaged.

Junior coach, Gareth Williams, had organised for other club volunteers, children and parents to "muck-in" and fill potholes at Eccleshill's car park and pitches, over the weekend of February 8 and 9.

But, come the following Tuesday, the digger - which was donated by local building company Extend Rite Ltd alongside a dumper truck - had been vandalised, with its back window smashed.

Extend Rite paid £290 for repairs and Mr Williams worried that any bill could jeopardise the junior club's previous fundraising efforts.

An unexpected saviour emerged though, after the T&A published an article highlighting the appalling act.

Neil Edmundson came forward and footed the repair bill, before going one step further.

He also sponsored the team for new training jackets, as well as funding a tournament in summer.

Mr Williams said: "To me, it's a huge sigh of relief.

"It was a £290 repair bill and it would have wiped out anything we'd saved for a summer tournament.

"It shows the community spirit in Eccleshill is still there and that there's still good people willing to get involved.

"He came forward without me chasing him."

There was also another heart-warming outcome from this tale, in an unexpected twist of fate.

Mr Williams said: "It was lovely meeting Neil and sharing stories.

"When I went to meet him I said, 'my dad used to live on this street'.

"Then he asked for my dad's name and it turned out he knew him and they went out on motorbikes together back in the day.

"They're going to start chatting again now - he added my dad on Facebook and sent him a message when I was there."

Running and keeping a junior football club alive is a continuous battle.

In the past, Mr Williams has organised bag packs and raffles, as well as selling football cards, to help fund new equipment, kits and winter jackets.

Eccleshill has gone from strength-to-strength recently, with more children and parents getting involved.

Mr Williams admits community is everything when its comes to continuing this kind of positivity.

He said: "It's massive - without the community spirit, clubs like ours wouldn't survive.

"It's all done on a voluntary basis, coaching teams, doing matchdays."