HUNDREDS of enthusiasts have banded together to launch a new association in a bid to secure the future of sport on the Waterside.

Holbury Community Sports Association aims to plug the gap left by the demise of Waterside Sports and Social Club, which collapsed last December amid claims it had debts of about £160,000.

The club was based in Long Lane, Holbury, and operated from a huge site owned by Esso, which runs Fawley refinery.

Esso has given the new organisation a licence to use some of the same facilities in a move that has saved four sports clubs.

John Church, one of the association's four directors, said the latest developments would enable Waterside Bowls Club, Fawley Cricket Club, Fawley AFC and Waterside Tennis Club to continue.

He added: "Fawley AFC played its first game on Saturday under the new structure.

"Although there will be challenges ahead and a lot of work to be carried out improving facilities all four clubs are totally committed to working together to ensure there is a future for the sports in the community for years to come."

Brian Mainwaring, secretary of the bowls club, added: "The four sections got together and we're thrilled to bits with the outcome.

"If the association hadn't been formed - and Esso hadn't agreed to help - there would have been no bowls, cricket, tennis or football at the site.

"We can't do much about the main club but we have resurrected sport."

Other enthusiasts have taken to social media to voice their delight. Fawley Cricket Club tweeted: "Holbury CSA is up and running. Been a tough few months but exciting times ahead."

As reported in the Daily Echo, the social club closed in December with the loss of about 40 part-time jobs.

A statement issued at the time said: "It is with great sadness that our wonderful club was forced to close its doors to our members and staff following the failure of a financial recovery plan.

"To have continued under these circumstances would have meant we were breaking the law by trading whilst insolvent."

Members later launched a campaign to save the club, which had been at the heart of the local community for more than 60 years.

A statement issued by Esso earlier this year said: "We are sorry to learn that the Waterside Sports and Social Club has been forced to close due to financial difficulties.

“We are investigating whether a viable alternative to the social club can be found."