'Smiles back on faces' as Thornaby FC's under 15s girls' team thank community

Parents say smiles have been put back on the faces of a girls' football team after nearly £2,000 was raised following plans to axe the players.

Thornaby FC's under 15s girls' team has thanked the community after a GoFundMe reached £1,800 - more than triple they hoped for to buy new kits. It comes after dozens of other players were left in "turmoil" after the club announced plans to cut its entire female section - leaving around 100 females without a club.

The shock announcement was met with uproar from football fans across the country. The six board members who voted to axe the team resigned and new chief exec Alison McGee said there is "potential for men and women" together at the club.

A GoFundMe was launched to ensure the under 15s girls' team could attend the Aces Nationals Football Tournament on June 23 as they said they were unable to use the Thornaby strip. It has now raised £1,818 and with the team thanking the community's "incredible generosity".

The girls came third out of the 24 best teams in the country and are now looking to the future. Nikki Lucas, whose daughter Lily, 15, is the team's captain, praised the community.

She said: "Your incredible generosity has put a smile back on our girls' faces and restored their belief and confidence in society. At a time when they doubted their position in the sporting world, your support has shown them that the narrow-minded people who doubt them and the sport they love are truly a minority.

"The generous donations we've received kitted out the U15's girls team with new strips, which they wore with pride at the Aces tournament.

"Although our GoFundMe page was set up with one main aim, your overwhelming support has exceeded our expectations, we can't thank each and everyone of you enough."

Following the announcement to axe the club's female section, former chief executive of Thornaby FC Trevor Wing, released a statement “to clarify the situation and address some misconceptions” after the Teesdale Park club came under fire for its decision.

Thornaby FC and former chief executive Trevor Wing
Thornaby FC and former chief executive Trevor Wing -Credit:UGC

In his letter, Mr Wing stated that the vote to remove “the entire female section” from the Acklam Road club leaving "over 100 girls without a team” was “portrayed as a sweeping and callous move”. However, he stated that it was “more complex”, citing “financial constraints” on the club.

The former chief executive outlined that the Thornaby men’s team was established in 2000 so “the difficult decision was made to prioritise its continuity”. Mr Wing added that Thornaby FC does not have any boys junior teams.

He also spoke of his commitment to women’s football and stated that he felt he had been “mischaracterised”. You can read the letter in full here.

New chief executive Alison McGee officially took over Thornaby FC last week. Alison is the director of quality at Durata, critical power infrastructure specialists who have sponsored Thornaby FC Women for the last two seasons.

Alison McGee has officially joined the Thornaby FC board as the club’s new chief executive officer
Alison McGee has officially joined the Thornaby FC board as the club’s new chief executive officer -Credit:Durata

She said there is "potential for men and women" together at the club. Alison said: “Durata is a huge advocate of women in engineering and we can see huge similarities across football. That is why we have been keen to be so heavily involved with women in sport over the years.

"We want to be part of the next stage of Thornaby FC’s journey, driving forward with a club with so much potential for men and women together, girls and boys, one club.”