A video clip of the Morecambe FC manager being moved to tears by a grand gesture from football fans has gone viral.
Jim Bentley was deeply touched after supporters clubbed together to raise money to pay his £1,000 fine from the Football Association for being sent off in a League Two match.
Mark Swindlehurst, Morecambe match day announcer, surprised the boss with the bucket collection taken during the Shrimps’ 4-1 win over Notts County on Saturday.
As video cameras rolled, Mark said: “Jim, we know your fine was £1,000 and that’s a lot of money for anyone to fork out of their own pocket, so the fans today have been very generous, have dug deep in their pockets, and would like to pay your fine.
“And it’s because everybody cares at the club, we care about you and we stand shoulder to shoulder.”
Bentley, who was doing a post-match TV interview for Morecambe FC’s website at the time, was visibly emotional afterwards.
Later, Jim said: “I can’t thank them enough; I’m an emotional person but what a great gesture.
“I didn’t know anything about it. It was very, very emotional and just shows, when times are tough, that everyone sticks together.
“I’ll remember that forever.”
Mark Swindlehurst said: “He was overwhelmed.
“People think Jim is this big bear of a man but he’s a big softie at heart.
“Myself and (fellow supporter) David Freear found a red bucket and we went round every bar and box at the club. One director put in £100 and kids were coming up to us with big smiles putting change in.
“Jim has been with us for 15 years and is a big part of our family. Everybody was pleased to do it.”
The gesture came in the midst of a difficult time at the League Two Club.
Last week a company which runs the all-weather community pitches at the Globe Arena, used by the public and the youth teams, went into administration.
This came during the continued absence of new owner Diego Lemos, who has not been seen at the club since mid-November.
Players and staff were paid late in October and the club is under a transfer embargo because the Professional Footballers’ Association stepped in to help pay wages.
“Jim’s going through enough at the moment so we thought, let’s do something,” said Mark.
“It was like the old Christie Park spirit. The fans were absolutely fantastic on Saturday. We have been galvanised by adversity and we won’t be beaten down.”
Bentley was fined by the Football Association after being sent to the stands during a pre-Christmas match against Cheltenham Town for his reaction to a red card received by Shrimps player Alex Kenyon.
He was also banned from the touchline for two games.