Salford United JFC

The community of Salford has rescued youth football side Salford United JFC following the trashing of their clubhouse – with a little help from one of the biggest names in the game.

The club’s fortunes have been transformed within weeks of what looked like devastating damage to their prospects thanks to backing from MediaCity-based Match of the Day host Gary Lineker and a host of other supporters.

Lineker personally donated £1,000 which really got the ball rolling. He also shared the link with his 6.9 million Twitter followers, which resulted in donations flying in to take the total to more than £6,000, well over its £5,000 target.

Other supporters have offered to replace equipment smashed and vandalised in the break-in.

Manager of the under-7s boys team, Jamie Sinnott, is amazed by the response which has saved the club from closure.

He discovered the carnage whilst carrying out a routine check of the pitches, ahead of the weekend matches, on Friday March 6. The 27-year-old manager said: “As we opened the door, everything was just everywhere: paint all over, nets smashed up. We just couldn’t believe what we were seeing.

“(We were) gutted. Devastated, because we knew we were going to have to go and tell the kids.”

The most disgusting and confusing aspect of the break-in was the vile writing strewn across the walls and whiteboards: This included anti-semitic slurs, among other heavily race based offensive comments. Salford United JFC only formed in 2015 and made the move to their Louisa Street home last summer.

“In the summer we put effort into doing it all up, giving it a lick of paint. (Only) for it all to be destroyed,” said Jamie.

The club is run completely by volunteers all the way to the chairman so they also lost all the time and effort they put into transforming the building into their home, without any pay whatsoever.

Kirsty Jennings, 29, manager of Salford United JFC’s U11’s girls team, was equally devastated upon hearing of the break-in.

She said: “We were all gutted, every single one of us that volunteers here were gutted. In comparison to other clubs, we’re only small. We’ve only got 16 teams.”

Kirsty with her under-11s

Kirsty has been at the forefront of the social media campaign that has seen the whole of Salford get behind Salford United JFC. She set up a JustGiving page with a £5,000 target to help them on their way to recovery.

Salford United JFC
Irreversible damage to the nets, rendering them completely useless

“That £5,000 will go a long way within the club. It will allow us to start again, fresh. Wherever we get based now, we know we’ve got money behind us.”

There was a general consensus within the club, that without these donations, the club would have folded and the teams would have had to go their separate ways.

“We are totally speechless here at Salford United JFC, the amazing response to this mindless act has restored our faith in humanity. We cannot thank you all enough.” said Kirsty.

The support hasn’t been limited to just monetary donations though. They have had kits donated, nets, balls and skipthetips.org have even offered the club storage space free of charge with round the clock CCTV.

The amount of money raised is fantastic. However, it is just a starting point: Jamie said: “That’s just the tip of the iceberg I’d say. It’s hard to put an actual cost on it, because it’s your time, and that’s invaluable.”

Ex-England international Casey Stoney also joined the girls team to lead a training session, in what was a well planned surprise by the organisers. The former Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea player has now joined up with Phil Neville as part of the Lionesses coaching staff, and was able to deliver an invaluable masterclass.

Adam Richman, the star of Man vs Food, also shared this message on the JustGiving page, along with a generous £250 donation. He said: “I’m so sorry that you, or anyone that is out there trying to do good for their community, has to deal with mindless, vile stupidity. Hoping you all find yourselves on the road to success and recovery!” The gratitude shown by the volunteers at Salford United JFC is clear. As Jamie said: “You just don’t expect that (kind of support). When that’s happened, you think you’re on your own, you think, what are we going to do from here? But, everyone just comes together.”

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