A GRASSROOTS girls' football team that was on the verge of folding four years ago is celebrating winning a major trophy.

Earlier this month, the Darlington Spraire Lasses lifted the Russel Foster League Shield, their first honour since the club's new management took over.

The victory had a special significance as almost four years to the day prior to their success, the club was facing closure, with bosses admitting they were in "tatters".

In May 2015, Darlington Spraire Lasses Under 11s were left in a sorry state, as they had only six players going into a seven-a-side league.

The team had to drop out of the regional league and play in the third division mini soccer league just to keep going. Current manager Nathan Beadle took over the reigns and took to recruiting immediately.

Working tirelessly alongside joint manager Damian Sparrow, they were able to grow the squad and progress through the leagues.

After a few seasons the team found itself flying in the RFYL Division One and put an incredible run of form together to ensure promotion to the Premier Division.

Mr Beadle, who also works as a teaching assistant at Red Hall Primary School in Darlington, said: "From near extinction to the top Division of their age was some what of a miracle.

"This season (at Under 15s) has been our first season playing against the top teams and it has been a big step up for the girls. As a team we decided to concentrate on a cup run and put in some unbelievable performances against some top sides.

"The final was a big day for the team as they have progressed a long way and worked extremely hard. We have not poached any players but seemed to develop them, a true message of what grassroots football is all about."

Spraire went a goal down early on but fought hard throughout to ensure the game went to penalties, and went on to lift the cup.

Mr Beadle added: "The emotions and sheer joy from players, parents and family - who came to support was truly breath taking.

"There was a sense of pride as everyone realised how much this team deserved this and how hard everyone involved has worked.

"The image of the cup win really sums up the family feeling we create around this team. No one person has a lesser role."