Football fans create armed forces support club

Armed forces veterans have united to battle feelings of isolation while supporting their football team.

The Newcastle United Armed Forces Supporters Club was founded by Army veteran Mickey Warke, who set up the group to make sure ex-service personnel did not "feel isolated or alone".

The club had its first official meeting on Saturday, where it was endorsed by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle.

Mr Warke said the group had "avalanched" since its formation in December and now had more than 2,000 members.

Mr Warke was inspired to start the group after discovering one of his "saving graces" in readjusting to civilian life "was going to St James' Park".

After bumping into fellow veterans at matches, he decided to create a Facebook group where they could get together and "share" their love for both their "time in the forces and Newcastle United".

Mick Wilkes, an RAF veteran and deputy chair of the group, believes the group is already helping the veteran community.

"This feeling of isolation and loneliness that some members of the forces get is a real thing and we think we can help just by bringing people together," he added.

Armed forces supporters clubs run at lower league clubs, as well as at Premier League level.

Mr Wilkes believes they are successful because the armed forces community "like to stick together" and "to reconnect".

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