By Sheila Holmes

Pictured (L to R) : Dave Squires (Club Sec.), Adrian Thorp (U15 Manager), Daniel Cartwright, Richard Squires (U16s), Nathan Thorp (U15s), John Handley (TOR Design), Coun. Pauline Grahame, Dave Johnson (Club Treasurer), Sean Johnson (U11), Danny Squires, Oliver Johnson, Callan Henderson (U13s), Robin Cartwright (U16 Manager)

Just a couple of months ago a Leeds football club's goal was simply to keep playing after a devastating arson attack destroyed all its training and match equipment. But thanks to kind-hearted folk who were straight on the ball, Whinmoor Juniors are now back on the pitch.

Robin Cartwright, manager of the Under 16s, said: “It's been absolutely fantastic. We are so grateful and didn't realise that people cared or had even heard of Whinmoor Juniors. Without this kind of generosity the club would not have been in a position to continue playing this season.”

Officials estimated that it would cost at least £4,000 to replace everything – money which would take almost every penny of the clubs funds. A set of nets alone is £50, and new match and training balls for 60-plus children cost £400. “It's just amazing where the money goes,” said Mr. Cartwright.

But thanks to local councillors it can now recoup the money to replace all the damaged equipment. Coun Pauline Grahame (Lab, Crossgates & Whinmoor) recommended to the Outer East Area Committee that it should help with funding and as a result it is to receive £4,265. Coun Grahame and her ward colleagues, Peter Gruen and Suzi Armitage, have also given the club £500 of their MICE (Members Improvement in the Community and Environment) money for community projects.

Mr Cartwright said: “If it was not for her we wouldn't have got this far. She has been a brilliant help.” Coun Grahame said: “I was pleased to help Whinmoor Juniors. The arson attack was a terrible thing to happen. Those responsible probably have nothing better to do with their time and should get involved with the club instead.”

The club has also been provided with a 30ft steel shipping container at a reduced rate by Northern Containers Leeds, two sets of plastic portable goals from Argos-Intersport in Harrogate and balls and other training aids from Tor Design, Leeds .

Cash donations have included £500 from Leeds-based Gary Chappelow Memorial Fund, which gives money to junior sports teams, and £200 from customers and staff at the Bellbrooke Café in Harehills.

“We just want to say a big thank you to all the people who have taken the time to help the club,” said Mr. Cartwright. “We still need benches, shelving and specialist training aids, but we have the basic essentials we need to play football.”




Article reproduced by kind permission of Yorkshire Post Newspapers, October 2006.