AFTER the loss of a close friend Phillip Atherton took it upon himself to make town a better place for all.

The 33-year-old New Lodge resident lost his friend Richard Cherryholme to mental health last year - an incident that made him realise more was needed to support people in the community.

Along with other friends, he quickly set up a charity football match, which has grown bigger than he ever thought it would.

He told the Chronicle: “It had a big effect on us all.

“So we set up a charity football match which was initially just meant to be a one-off event.

“After that event we realised we wanted to play more football, so we set up our own club.”

The club, called AMC FC New Lodge Athersley, gives men a space to connect and communicate, all while raising funds for the men’s mental health charity Andy’s Man Club.

Since that first event in September, they have managed to raise £10,000 for that charity as well as a handful of others.

On top of all of this, Phillip and the team go out of their way to support whatever causes come their way.

“On February 9 we organised a charity horse race night at Carlton Village WMC to raise funds for one of our players whose son’s battling cancer,” Phillip added.

“We had ten races where people could make a bet and local companies sponsored - we raised £1,431 and with the funds we paid for a weekend away at Tattershall Lakes including guest passes for the family.

“One of our players broke his leg in a charity game and we raised £950 for him as he was self-employed.

“We’ve donated to local children’s charities for Christmas presents, a girl dancing in Prague, walking challenges and also done clothing collections for the clothing bank and of football boots and kit to be sent to Gambia.”

Phillip shows no signs of showing down, with further charity events planned, and thanks to his dedication he has been nominated in the Community Hero category at this year’s Proud of Barnsley awards.

“We try to have regular charity matches as well as other events.

“We’ve got one coming up on July 20 where we’ll have a raffle, live singers and a bouncy castle.

“Everybody’s been really happy about it, and we’ve got a big following.

“There are 40 players and we’ve got plenty of people messaging us wanting to help out.

“I’ve said we may need to start a second team, but I don’t think I’ll be able to run it all.

“I’m going to have to ask the other lads if they can help running things.”