Signed Chelsea shirt nets youth club £240

Gordon Larkin (left) and Paul Craggs of the Belle Vue Community Centre with the autographed Chelsea football shirt

Gordon Larkin (left) and Paul Craggs of the Belle Vue Community Centre with the autographed Chelsea football shirt

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A YOUTH club is hundreds of pounds better off thanks to a football shirt signed by the winners of this year’s Champions League.

The 2011-12 Chelsea shirt – signed by the entire squad including Fernando Torres, John Terry, Frank Lampard and star of the final Didier Drogba – was auctioned to raise funds for the youth club at the Belle Vue Community Sports and Youth Centre, in Kendal Road.

The auction closed on Friday and the winning bid was £240, by Hartlepool man Paul Wilkinson, 42.

The West View resident brought it for his 17-year-old son Ryan Wilson, who is a big Chelsea fan.

Newcastle United fan Paul, also dad to five-year-old Connor Griffin, said: “I brought it for Ryan and we are going to get it framed.

“I was more than happy to help raise money for such a good cause.”

Centre staff had set a minimum bid of £150, and if they did not make that then the shirt would have been raffled in the reception instead.

The aim was to raise as much money as possible for the youth club, which each week provides activities for around 250 young people, aged five to 19.

Centre manager Gordon Larkin said: “The final bid was £240 and I was very pleased with the final amount.

“The auction was open for two weeks and the first week we didn’t get a sniff.

“Thanks to the coverage in the Mail we ended up getting four bids and all the money will go towards the youth club, which is a great cause.”

The shirt was donated by one of the local residents, whose daughter works for the Stamford Bridge club.

Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties in May after the game finished 1-1 in normal time, increasing the value of the shirt.

Centre staff have had a number of innovative fundraisers over the past 18 months including charity nights, a bungee jump, race nights, sponsored dips at Seaton Carew and community fun days.

For more information about the centre, call (01429) 221832.