Mums keep youth football club afloat after officials emptied its bank account

Dated: 18/04/2012'THE MOST UNPOPULAR COUPLE IN SUNDERLAND ''Carl Hunter and Debbie Clark pictured  leaving Newcastle Crown Court. The thieving couple stole cash destined for a childrens' cancer charity and left a schoolboy's football club with just 30p in its account.'Debra Clark, 36, and Carl Hunter, 39, were told by a judge yesterday it was their own fault if they were the "most unpopular couple in Sunderland" after what they had done. 'See story by North News ' NOT AVAILABLE FOR PRINT SALES

Dated: 18/04/2012'THE MOST UNPOPULAR COUPLE IN SUNDERLAND ''Carl Hunter and Debbie Clark pictured leaving Newcastle Crown Court. The thieving couple stole cash destined for a childrens' cancer charity and left a schoolboy's football club with just 30p in its account.'Debra Clark, 36, and Carl Hunter, 39, were told by a judge yesterday it was their own fault if they were the "most unpopular couple in Sunderland" after what they had done. 'See story by North News ' NOT AVAILABLE FOR PRINT SALES

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SUPERMUMS Joanne Reed and Emma Collins are keeping a children’s football club afloat after thieves left just 30p in its account.

Last week, Debra Clark, 36, and Carl Hunter, 39, escaped jail after admitting plundering South Hylton Rangers Junior Football Club’s accounts.

Clark, who was treasurer, helped herself to almost £5,500 of the club’s cash while Hunter, who was manager and coach, fiddled the books to cover up.

They left the club with just 30p, and also helped themselves to more than £500 raised by the youngsters for children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sergeant.

When the theft was uncovered in October, the mums stepped in to prevent it from closing down.

An appeal in the Echo for help to get the club back on its feet led to a flood of donations and offers for help.

Joanne said: “The response from people has been incredible and we never expected to get this much support.

“It has been challenging and a hard few months. It’s been hard physically and emotionally because she was our friend and she broke that trust.”

The club, which has been renamed North East Sports Allstars, has received sponsorship from Peter Curtis at North East Sport, which is now in charge of the administration and other elements while the women head the team.

Emma said: “We had to do something at the time because otherwise the team would have dwindled away and it was popular.

“We’re glad that we’ve been able to keep it open for the kids, and the kids love it.”

As well as receiving a huge helping hand from Northeast Sport, the club would like to thank Mike Page, of Page Powder Coatings, Graham Cunningham, BFS and everyone else who has supported them.

Daredevil mum Lynsey Talbot, whose son Jamie, eight, plays for the team, also raised a lot cash for the club when she took part in a sponsored sky-dive.

The 34-year-old, of South Hylton, raised about £1,100, which was split between the club and CLIC Sergeant.

Joanne said: “We want to say a huge thank-you to everyone who has helped, including the Sunderland Echo.”

Clark and Hunter, of Shakespeare Street, Southwick, were sentenced to nine months behind bars, suspended for 12 months, with a supervision and a six month, night-time curfew.

Twitter: @sunechochief