In a tumultuous past week for the English game, the importance of football clubs to their communities has never felt more apparent.

In the midst of the unsuccessful attempt of clubs at the upper echelon of the football pyramid to form a widely derided 'Super League' consisting of a host of the biggest sides from around Europe, it is at places like Whitehaven AFC where the oft-cited 'beauty' of the game itself is still found.

Chairman Luke Johnston has worked throughout the pandemic, while juggling a full-time job of his own, to ensure the club made a difference even when members were unable to play.

He describes it as a "very rewarding if hands on" role.

"We're a grassroots club so everything we do is for the community, he explained.

"We offer football to everyone within the community and have teams right from age 6 right through to senior sides in both men's and women's, as well as disability teams. We offer football to everyone really.

"We're very lucky that throughout the pandemic, regardless of whether we've been able to play, parents have really stuck by us and they have continued to pay monthly memberships. Those involved in adults teams have continued to do the same and we've also had funding from Copeland Borough Council and the FA."

During lockdown, Mr Johnston confirms that the club has undergone a refurbishment, something that has been heavily reliant on community help.

"That, again, was a real community effort. We had joiners, for example, who offered six weeks worth of joinery work for free. On top of that businesses have committed around £10,000 worth of materials. Our members want to give back all the time."

During the pandemic, he has has pioneered a host of initiatives such as a foodbank, hot meals for vulnerable people and a 'boot bank', where people can donate boots.

He is now calling on bigger clubs to see the importance of fans to clubs.

"It's more of a family here. They need to listen to fans, without the people they are nothing. A club like this is a prime example. The people are the backbone of every club."