A seven-year-old Bolton Wanderers fan joined fan efforts to clean up the stadium of rivals Bury as both teams faced possible financial collapse.
After the Shakers issued a plea to help prepare the stands for Saturday’s home game against Doncaster, fans of numerous clubs descended on Gigg Lane to answer the call.
Among them was Bolton fan Ian Eccleshare, who asked his young son Ben if he would like to join the clean up at their local rivals on Monday.
“He was made up when we got there,” Mr Eccleshare told the PA news agency.
“We got talking to an elderly lady who told us that her husband couldn’t come as he has dementia, Ben asked if he was okay and he would clean seats on his behalf which made him a bit upset.”
Hundreds of football fans have travelled to aid Bury, with the badges of clubs such as Burnley, Blackpool, Sheffield United and even Portsmouth – over 250 miles south – pictured on the chests of those cleaning in the stands.
Mr Eccleshare, 39, said the number of people who came to thank Ben and himself for helping and to discuss the state of their two clubs was “humbling”.
“The emotion in the voices in the older generation we spoke to was something else,” he said.
“It was more than just a football club today, more community spirit.”
Joining the effort was a local fast food van, which parked outside the stadium and, according to the club, offered free food for 400 volunteers.
Bury fan Kenny Hindle, who has been supporting the club for 70 years, could also be seen helping out.
The 78-year-old arrived at the stadium using a walking stick but was still able to assist with scouring the stands.
Bury and Bolton both faced a 5pm deadline with the threat of being kicked out of the Football League if they didn’t prove a takeover deal was done or provide reasons for needing an extension.
Shortly before the cut-off, Bury’s proposed buyer C&N Sporting Risk said it was “unable to proceed”, leaving the Lancashire side’s future hanging in the balance after 134 years.
As the club awaited news of its future, Bury described the help offered to the club as “overwhelming”.