Premiership footballers have a reputation for spending vast amounts of cash on fast cars and beautiful women.
But Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher is investing in an altogether more charitable cause by replacing two sets of goalposts stolen from a boys football club he played for as a child after reading about their plight in the Evening News.
The theft of four crossbars belonging to Easthouses Football Club in Midlothian put the club’s forthcoming season in jeopardy.
The bars were stolen from a metal container in Easthouses Park in August, just days before the start of the new soccer sevens season.
The culprits appeared to have smashed the handle and padlock on the container then stole the four aluminium crossbars, leaving behind nets and goalposts.
The corner flags had been taken out and thrown into the woods. With a set of goals priced between £500 and £800 each, the club did not hold out much hope of securing new sets in time for the start of the season.
But now Scotland international Fletcher, 27 – who grew up in neighbouring Mayfield – has gifted £1850 to cover the cost of two new sets of goalposts after reading the story in the Evening News.
Club chairman Stuart Maclean, 32, said: “It caused a problem because we had 30-odd kids who weren’t able to play football before the start of the season, so it was mayhem.
“Luckily enough, Newbattle Community High School got us two sets of goals to help us out.
“It was very good of them, but the goals were more for five-a-side games and not quite the ones that we needed.”
After the theft, Stuart appealed to local businesses for help and considered organising a fundraiser – but it was not long before he received word that Fletcher wanted to assist.
Last night, the cash was presented to the club by a friend of Darren’s parents, who live locally. Father-of-three Stuart, whose son Lauchlan, nine, plays in one of the club’s seven-a-side teams, said: “The whole club is delighted that a former player has done that for us.
“Darren was with the club when he was a youngster.
“He used to play for a team called Panda and that became Easthouses, and that’s where he was scouted to Manchester United.
“We would all just like to say a really big thank you to Darren.”
Mayfield resident Robert Hogg, a friend of Darren’s dad, Bobby, said: “Darren had read the story in the Evening News and he contacted his mum and dad to say he wanted to help out.
“He obviously wanted to give something back to the area he grew up in.”
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