Michael's on the ball to help football club

FOOTBALLER Michael Nelson stepped in to help his home town team after it was left fighting for survival by an arson attack.

The Hartlepool United defender was saddened to hear how the blaze had left the future of Washington Football Club under threat.

The arson attack at the Northern League side's Albany Park ground in Concord last month destroyed the changing rooms complex and equipment including strips, nets and balls.

So Michael, 28, who lives in Washington, approached Hartlepool to ask if it could help.

The caring club sent a set of red strips – Washington FC's colour – as well as balls, training bibs and cones.

Michael, who is in his sixth year with League One side Hartlepool, is friends with Washington FC's assistant manager Andrew Lumsden.

Michael said: "When I was told what had happened, I couldn't believe it at first.

"I don't see what anyone could get out of setting changing rooms on fire."

Michael approached his club to see if they could help Washington in any way.

"I got on the phone straight away to the chief executive of Hartlepool.

"He said he had some strips. I arranged to go and pick them up and when I got down there, there were also balls, bibs and cones."

Michael, a former pupil at Usworth Comprehensive in Washington, said he was aware Washington FC has struggled with financial worries.

He said: "I know they are always trying to raise funds to carry on.

"I thought it would be ideal for them if I could get some stuff."

Derek Armstrong, chairman of Washington FC, thanked Michael and

Hartlepool United for their generosity.

He said: "It's great that a local lad who has made his name in professional football still cares for grassroots football and the people who work towards providing a sporting outlet in the community.

"We are very grateful to Michael and Hartlepool United.

"At a time when Hartlepool were heavily involved in the FA Cup, it was wonderful that the chief executive could take time out to think about the little clubs in the region."

Police are investigating the arson attack on January 13 and have appealed for anyone with information to contact them.

Kind-hearted football teams, supporters and communities across the North East have rallied round to help the club, which has been forced to find alternative pitches for its home matches.