A players’ union has generously donated £1,000 towards an appeal to help create a statue of legendary Sunderland captain Charlie Hurley on Wearside.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has passed on the cash as organisers hope to reach a target of £100,000 for the sculpture.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor is a former playing colleague Charley’s during their time together at Bolton Wanderers.
The committee behind the fund-raising appeal are now busy organising further events to boost the total.
Sunderland fan and events host Phil Hourigan has also agreed to become the charity’s first patron.
In addition, thanks to the efforts of lifelong SAFC fan David McTomney the group now has a wide selection of memorabilia that has been signed by past and present Sunderland players.
It will be raffled at future events.
Signed by the Black Cats in 1957, Charlie, who turns 80 later this year, went on to make more than 350 appearances for the club in a 12-year stint on Wearside.
Tracey Hawkins, secretary of the statue fund group, said: “It is great that the PFA has made a significant donation and we are delighted that Phil Hourigan has agreed to become our first patron.
“We are going to have leaflets to hand out to supporters and t-shirts that will sell to raise funds towards the Charlie Hurley Statue that will cost around £100,000.
“I’d urge anyone who can afford it to make a donation to the fund.
“We will also be doing many fund raising events and hope fans will back them in large numbers.
“All supporters’ branches can help by collecting money and organising events.
“We have got regular meetings planned in Sunderland to organise future events.
“These will be advertised on the Facebook page.
“Charlie has recently sent us a letter expressing his pleasure at the work we are undertaking.
“He sends his best wishes to all Sunderland fans.”
The group are still in the process of organising an official launch of the fun and details will be released in due course.
A leaflet is being written for the start of the new season and we would urge anyone who can help with its distribution to get in touch.
Sunderland City Council has registered the fund under the 2005 Gambling Act, allowing it to conduct lotteries and raffles.
To donate to the fund, go to https://www.givey.com/charliehurleystatue
Anyone wanting to make a cash/cheque donation can drop it in to chairman of the fund Martin O’Neill at Sweet Home Alabama, in Fawcett Street, Sunderland city centre.