Wed, Jun

Notts County players Andre Boucaud, Yohann Arquin and Jeremy Balmy with Brenda Read, 84, a lifelong fan of the club, who has been going to Meadow Lane for 79 years.  Read more:

FOOTBALLERS from Notts County added extra festive cheer to a Christmas party.

Brenda Read, of Clifton was one of more than 100 people at the event at Clifton Methodist Church in Rivergreen yesterday.

Midfielders Andre Boucaud and Jeremy Balmy and forward Yoann Arquin attended the party, organised by volunteer group Good Companions.

Brenda, 84, who went to her first game at Meadow Lane as a five-year-old, was delighted with the visit.

She said: "It's nice to see the young footballers acting like good role models. They sometimes get a bad reputation, but these three have been lovely.

"I still get to all the home games today and my first match was when my brother took me when I was five."

Superfan Brenda said she had been to a number of Player of the Year dances and once had a dance with legendary County manager Jimmy Sirrel.

"Notts County have a history of being a real community club and I'm glad that's still the same today. But I was expecting Andre Boucaud to be bigger – he looks ten times that size on the pitch."

Andre, 29, joined county permanently this season after a successful loan last term.

He said: "As soon as we heard about the day we were only ever going to say yes and come down. Some of these people might not have families to go to this Christmas, so if we can help to make someone happy that's got to be a plus."

Boucaud said he was looking forward to seeing his 87-year-old grandma over the festive period.

"We will do our best to beat Colchester on Saturday for everyone here," he added.

A raffle was also held, with prizes donated by local businesses ranging from County and Forest tickets to free meals at a nearby chip shop. The players took it in turns to draw the winners from the crowd, who were also fed sandwiches and entertained by the choir from Glapton Academy who sang Christmas songs and hymns.

Volunteer and life-long County fan Andrew Bowler, 24, was helping at his eighth Good Companions Christmas dinner.

He said: "I wouldn't miss this for the world. You can just see how happy it makes them – this is our biggest event of the year."

The group host meals for old people from Clifton, Wilford and Silverdale – some of whom are taxied in – in a bid to combat loneliness among the elderly.

Andrew, who works as a cleaner, has been volunteering for over seven years.

"I book the day off every year to do the Christmas party," he added. "I've swapped jobs a few times but this has always been my priority."

The group are on the hunt for new volunteers and would welcome any extra help.