THIEVES have “trotted” off with a signed football shirt from a devastated Atherton sports club.

They snatched the team signed Bolton Wanderers’ shirt donated by Nicolas Anelka after targeting Atherton Collieries FC some time between 8pm on March 10 and 8.45am on March 12.

They forced open the side door of the Alder Street premises and, once inside, stole a number of items including a projector, a screen, a DVD player and the shirt from the 2007/08 season which was encased in a thin black frame.

The burglars also emptied kit bags and wheelie bins and filled them with large amounts of beer and spirits from behind the bar and the cellar. They also tried to steal two petrol lawnmowers but these were found abandoned in the grounds.

It is believed they then dumped the wheelie bins in a nearby street, taking the booze with them.

Police are now appealing to anyone who has information to come forward.

PC Lawrence McDonald said: “The club are clearly devastated they have been targeted and desperately want their property returned.

“The football shirt, in particular, is only of value to these thieves if they try to sell it and I would urge the public to help us stop these criminals in their tracks and do not let them profit from their greed.

“If anyone is offered either this signed shirt or a large amount of alcohol, do not buy them and call police immediately.

Anyone with information should call Greater Manchester Police on 0161 856 7329 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.