Ardrossan Winton Rovers have found a brand new fanbase - in the Gambia.

The club have generously donated a set of strips, plus footballs, goalie gloves and shinpads to Villa Park, based in the African country's second biggest city, Brikama.

The Gambian amateur club, who reached their regional cup final last year, are used to playing in temperatures averaging 34C - but with little money available, resources were stretched.

Villa Park had just one football available for practice and only 11 strips - which meant players had to swap sweat-drenched kits with substitutes during games.

Now they are absolutely delighted to take to the pitch in some of Winton's old strips, still bearing the logo of the Three Towns Club's sponsors Cunninghame Housing Association.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Villa Park in their strips donated by Winton Rovers

The Ardrossan connection came about after my wife Helen and I enjoyed a fantastic holiday in the Gambia a year ago.

It quickly became apparent that the Gambians loved their football just as much as the Scots. And as our trip coincided with the 2022 World Cup, we spent a fair bit of time watching matches with the locals in a shady bar with a cool sea breeze in a bid to escape the heat for a few hours.

Our tour guide Lamin Keita is from Brikama - and his family live close to the Villa Park ground. He has a close connection to the club and when he mentioned their lack of resources, we had the bright idea to approach Winton Rovers to see if they could help.

A year later we prepared to head back to the Gambia and made contact with Winton's secretary Bobby Macnamara, who was only too happy to help the African club.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Villa Park in their strips donated by Winton Rovers

So we headed off on our flight with an extra cases - packed with strips and footballs for Villa Park courtesy of the Ardrossan club.

And we received an incredible welcome. The club decided to stage a match between their senior and junior players, with us as guests of honour.

The junior team were allowed to don the Winton strips and were unlucky to lose 3-1 to the seniors in a match played on a pitch of sand in 35c temperatures.

One of the Villa coaches refereed the game and donned a Saltire flag for the occasion.

(As an aside, there are a couple of pretty good players in both the teams. Winton scouts have been alerted...)

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Villa Park in their strips donated by Winton Rovers

The Gambian head coach Saikou Jabbie has now sent a letter thanking Winton for their help.

He wrote: "I hope this letter finds you in high spirits!

"I wanted to drop you a quick note to express my heartfelt appreciation for the fantastic set of jerseys and footballs you generously donated to our team at Villa Park.

"You've truly made a bunch of aspiring football enthusiasts extremely happy!

"The excitement among the players when they laid eyes on the new jersey was contagious.

"The jerseys are a perfect fit, and the footballs are already seeing some impressive action on the pitch.

"Your generosity has injected a fresh wave of enthusiasm into our team, and we're beyond grateful for your support.

"I wanted to take this opportunity not just to say thank you but also to highlight the positive impact your gesture has had on our team's morale.

"It's not just about the jersey; it's about the sense of unity and pride that comes with wearing quality jerseys and playing with a top-notch football.

"While basking in the joy of the new additions, I couldn't help but think about the other essentials that could further enhance our game.

"Specifically, we're in need of good quality football boots and some football material essential during the game and also in the training ground.

"As you can imagine, playing on various terrains takes a toll on footwear, and having reliable boots would undoubtedly contribute to the overall performance and safety of the team.

"So, here's a cheeky request: if you happen to have any connections or resources that could help us secure some quality football boots, we would be over the moon!

"Your continued support would mean the world to us and contribute significantly to the development of our players.

"Once again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness and generosity. Your positive impact on our team is immeasurable, and we look forward to continuing this exciting journey with you on our side.

"Wishing you all the best, and looking forward to the possibility of more great moments together."

If anyone else can help the club, let us know.