LEIGH Centurions players have rallied round to help one of their youngest fans after her signed shirt was snatched from her on Sunday.

Calleigh Smallman, aged eight, of Windsor Road, Higher Folds, was playing with her friends on a field off Royal Drive around 5.30pm.

As the St Gabriels Catholic Primary School pupil walked home around 30 minutes later, an older girl pushed her to the ground and ran off with her shirt.

Her dad Paul posted an appeal on Facebook asking for parents to check if one of their children had taken the shirt home.

The post has now been shared more than 800 times.

Centurions director Steve Openshaw heard about Calleigh’s experience that night and got in touch with Paul.

Steve arranged for her favourite players Ben Reynolds and Jamie Acton to send videos to Paul for his daughter to watch in which they offer their sympathy about what happened.

In his video, Ben said he will arrange meet her at the next home match, while Jamie said he will sign a training top for her.

The pair will also visit Calleigh at her home this afternoon, Tuesday, to deliver her new signed shirt. 

Ben Reynolds' message for Calleigh

Paul, 43, said: “When Calleigh got home she was hysterical, covered in mud and could not breathe properly.

“My older daughter Ally, who is 17, went looking for the girl that took the shirt off her with Calleigh for around an hour but they could not find her.

“The shirt was a Christmas present for her along with her first ever season ticket which she was made up with.

"She is rugby mad, loves watching the game in the North Stand and knows all the players in the team.

“After the end of each game this season she has been getting her shirt signed and the only player she did not get one from was from her favourite, Ben Reynolds.

"There is a close-knit community of parents in Higher Folds so I thought if I posted on Facebook one of them might be able to get it back.

"I am amazed to see it has been shared more than 800 times.

"I think it is brilliant that Steve and the players got in touch like they did.

"I was overwhelmed and it exceeded any of my expectations.

"Calleigh was crying tears of joy when she saw the videos and gave me a big hug.  

"It certainly put a smile on her face before she went to bed. 

“Since it happened the response from the public has been fantastic too and I have had lots of nice messages wishing Calleigh well.”

Jamie Acton's message for Calleigh

Calleigh has been supporting the Centurions for three years and been going to their home games with Paul and her 12-year-old sister Maddy

The incident on Sunday happened not long after she returned from Leigh Sports Village after watching her side thrash Rochdale Hornets 68-10.

Leigh Centurions Operations Director Steve Openshaw said:​ “The club learnt of Calleigh’s awful situation on Sunday evening and she was clearly distraught.

"She has obviously spent a lot of time collecting the players signatures which is not always easy and something she was doing game by game.

"To lose the shirt was devasting for her.

"I contacted her father Paul and told him we would get a new shirt signed by all the players.

"He told me that Ben Reynolds and Jamie Acton were her favourite players so I also arranged for them to send over a couple of video messages to say ‘hello’ and wish her well.

"Fair play to both of them. They are great lads and replied straight away.

"It was also great to see so many fans rallying round offering help.

"The players do genuinely care about the fans and our community, and it is not often that the public see the things they do regularly in their own time."