FAIRBANK United celebrated their 25th anniversary with an action-packed friendly game which bought together players from past and present, on a freezing Christmas Eve.

The Girlington outfit were formed in early 1996, and played their first fixture against their sponsors at the time, Dixon Motors, in February of that year.

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, and not knowing what the upcoming months may hold, the celebration game was brought forward six weeks to a day when all the players were free.

Akif Waseem, who played for the club as a 16-year-old in 1996, and still plays for the first team at the ripe old age of 41, took charge as player-manager of an all-star Fairbank Vets team.

His fellow team-mate from the inaugural game, and now manager of the first team, Shazad Bashir, faced him in the opposite dugout.

Bashir beamed: “It was a wonderful occasion, and it made me so happy to see so many of the lads again.

“I managed nearly all of the veterans through junior football when they were 12, so to see them back here playing again was a delight.”

The club was set up in 1996 by local resident Mark Rodgers, in order to allow lads from the area footballing opportunities that were not previously available.

A junior and open age team was set up, with the hope that the older players would be seen as role models for the younger ones.

The club has helped keep people off the streets, and away from undesirable behaviour, allowing many to become professional workers.

This is in fields as diverse as pharmacy, acting, teaching and probation officers, through to managers.

As for the Christmas Eve game itself, the first half was tight, but the first team proved too strong as the match wore on, and as expected, they ran out 5-2 winners.

The veterans will have their chance of revenge at the end of the season, when a second game will be played.

It is hoped that more players from past and present can join in, along with a celebration meal if conditions allow.

Fairbank play in Division One of the Yorkshire Amateur League and have endured a tough season so far, sitting third-bottom.

But they earned a 3-2 home win over Shire Academics Reserves in their last league game before Christmas to ease their relegation fears.