A FORMER Hucknall Town player who started a football programme aimed at turning young men away from crime has been given an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Morris Samuels was a player at Watnall Road in the era of manager John Ramshaw during the late 1990s.
But he has become better known as the driving force behind the ground-breaking Unity football and education programme.
He founded the scheme in 2005 in response to Nottingham’s rocketing problems with gun crime.
It came in the aftermath of the killing of 14-year-old Danielle Beccan, who was shot dead in 2004 in St Ann’s, where Mr Samuels lives.
The aim of Unity was originally to get young people from Nottingham’s inner-city areas of St Ann’s, Radford and The Meadows to play football together and quash territorial rivalries.
But since then, it has spread across the entire county.
Mr Samuels (42) and his supporters have worked with more than 1,000 11-to-25-year-olds and also provided them with routes into training, employment and education.
For a time, the project was closely linked with Hucknall Town, and several of Unity’s footballers went on to play for The Yellows.
Mr Samuels dedicated the MBE to “young people who have lost their lives” and to his family, including his daughter.
Funding for Unity is due to come to an end at the end of the year. However Mr Samuels, who is a trained youth worker, is confident the project will continue.