A YOUTH football club has 'bounced back with a vengeance' after being tricked into handing over thousands of pounds.

Mike Bradshaw, chairman of Laurel Park FC, says the club is stronger than it has ever been after recovering from losing £28,000 last year.

Packed crowds headed down to Marefield in Lower Earley on Saturday for the popular annual community open day.

Children competed in a number of inter-club friendly matches, while members of the club sold used football boots to help raise funds for Cardiac Risk in the Young.

Mr Bradshaw said: "It was an extremely successful day. We had a lot more people come down than we expected and the weather was perfect for it.

"A lot of work goes into organising the fun day, so it is always nice when we are able to bring the community together.

"We are now in a good position and we are looking forward to the future rather than backwards. We have bounced back with a vengeance and I would say the club is solid."

The scandal saw the community get behind Laurel Park with a number of fundraising initiatives.

Reading FC players and staff joined forces with Wickes to help refurbish the club's pavilion and provide new kits to young footballers.

Club officials are now hopeful that they will be able to help the club expand further by bringing in more players and improving sporting facilities for the wider community, as well as football.

"We had a huge amount of support from the community and that has allowed us to pour money back into the club," he added.

"I would say that club is stronger than it was before. It is obviously disappointing and we were down for a while, but we said it was never going to beat us and it didn't.

"We are growing all the time and we are very grateful to everyone who has got behind us and made this happen, particularly to the Woodley and Earley Lions Club for their continued support."

Visit: www.laurelparkfc.com to find out more.