THE founder of a junior football club has returned to take up the post of president.

Tommy Kelly formed St Mary's Soccer Squad after spotting a group of young lads kicking a ball about on Cockton Hill recreational ground, Bishop Auckland, in 1985.

The venture developed into Bishop Auckland St Mary's Juniors, which now boasts 18 teams and more than 350 players.

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Mr Kelly spent more than a decade with the club, stepping down after the 1996-97 season when the Bishop Auckland Northern Echo Youth League folded and St Mary's joined the Teesside Junior Alliance.

Now aged 77, Mr Kelly, who lives in Cockton Hill, said he was glad to be back.

“It was quite lucky how it started. At the time I was convalescing from an accident and I just noticed this group of about 20 kids kicking a ball around,” he said.

“I asked them if they fancied a game and I refereed.”

Twice weekly coaching sessions followed as well as friendly matches before St Mary's started playing other teams from the area.

“I wish I was still running a team,” added Mr Kelly.

He was introduced to the current St Mary's teams at a special get-together at Bishop Auckland FC's ground, Heritage Park.

Club secretary Steve Coulthard said: “We have been wanting to do this for some time.

“We have made Tommy our president, but some people don't know him or where the club came from.”