SCHOOLBOY soccer stars were given a hero's welcome when they made a victorious tour of their home village yesterday evening.

In the evening sunshine, Bampton Boys U-15s team boarded an open-topped bus and lapped up the praise when they did a lap of honour around the village.

Local people waved and tooted their car horns at the triumphant lads, winners of the Giles Sports U-15s B league.

The unusual celebration - normally reserved for professional footballers returning home with the FA Cup or the Premier League title - was organised by team manager Michael Whalley, of Aston.

He said "When they were under-tens I promised them an open-top bus if they won the league.

"It was a spur-of the moment thing and it's taken five years, but I've kept my word."

Michael managed to persuade the Guide Friday bus company from Oxford to provide a bus free of charge. He said: "It was wonderful, really worth the effort. I'll have to think of something else next year when they win the A-league."

Centre-back Russell Plumb, 15, of Thorney Leys, Witney, said: "This showed that our manager is proud of us. We all enjoyed it."

Gareth Preston, 15, of Springfield Oval, Witney, added: "He promised us when we were under-tens and it's good he kept his word."

David Hawkins, chairman of Bampton Boys Football Club, said: "We have four teams and we've been going for six years. This is our first real success and the bus tour was a great way to celebrate."

The club could also be a winner next week, when it expects to hear whether its application for a £200,000 lottery grant to build a new pavilion has been approved.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.