A FOOTBALL club is looking for past players to help celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Stanway Villa Youth Football Club, located at the Stanway village hall playing field on Villa Road is hoping to gather players past and present as one of the activities marking its half century.

Back in 1971, a group of boys who became too old to play cubs football retained started the club with their parents; five decades later, many youngsters have enjoyed playing with the club and helped make it the success it is today.

On this landmark anniversary, the club has 24 teams competing in the Colchester Youth and District League, ranging from Under 7s to Under 18s, with Under 5s and Under 6s teams also training in preparation for joining the League.

Former player and current volunteer coach, Ben McCarthy said: "Stanway Villa YFC has offered a lot to so many families, and indeed, families have offered a lot to it.

"This stands no truer than the family of Arthur Baines. Formerly a parent on the sidelines for son, Julian, he became the club's president. His wife, Sheila, inherited the role following his passing. Now Julian, continuing the family legacy, occupies the position.

"In fact, the Baines' garden became a storage area for goals and line-marking machines since it backs onto the Stanway Village Hall playing field. To this day, it continues to store much of the essential equipment."

For its 50th anniversary season, the club sports a special kit, in the trademark orange, which is being worn by all teams this season, sponsored by Essex Access Scaffolding, as well as Haswell Aesthetics, Andreas Carter and Fiveways Co-op: the latter having also sponsored the installation of floodlights in 1985 that enabled teams to train during the evenings.

Paul Williams and John Norton, from the parish council had a hand in another event. A plaque unveiling of the 50th anniversary club badge was held at the end of November last year, with Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council leader, Paul Dundas, borough councillor and John Norton in attendance.

England legend, Peter Shilton sent a virtual message to the club to mark the occasion.

Ben adds: "Youth football is a magnet of happiness and teams like Stanway Villa still help preserve its shining appeal."

If you played for the club in earlier years, please email the club secretary, Ann Longman at alongman@sky.com for more details.