FORMER Pars star Joe Cardle has swapped delivering cross balls for egg-cellent goodies to kids at Victoria Hospital this Easter.

The current Partick Thistle footballer, who still lives in Dunfermline after having had two separate, successful spells at East End, took more than 500 Easter eggs and an assortment of other treats to the hospital's children's ward last week.

Joe, 34, together with partner Lucy Patterson, the Walker family and those involved with his Joe Cardle Football Academy, embarked on the collection effort to try to raise a smile on the faces of youngsters who will spend the upcoming holiday period in hospital.

At Christmas, Joe and his football academy – which he launched last year during the first lockdown – raised funds and collected presents to donate to unwell kids at Edinburgh's Royal Hospital for Sick Children, and the dad-of-two was delighted to "give a little bit back".

Joe, a First Division winner with Athletic in 2011, and a League One champion with the club in 2016, was indebted to the support of NHS staff when his youngest daughter, Lyla Jo, was born prematurely, which he described as "tough, tough times".

"Over Christmas, it was fantastic what we did but we thought we would carry it on," he explained.

"Over Easter, there's going to be children stuck in hospital over that period so it was just nice to give a little bit back.

"A few of my kids who have been in with the academy have been in the hospital, have got their own experience, and obviously I've got my own experience with Lyla Jo when she was premature. It's just a little touch we want to do with the academy going forward that, when it comes to Easter, when it comes to Christmas, we'll try to donate as much as we can to give a little bit back.

"All the staff up there, and the NHS in general, have been incredible over the last year. Anything we can do to put a smile on a child's face, at any time of the year, feels incredible to be part of.

"It just shows you the community spirit we've got with the academy as well, the amount of people that have been dipping into their pockets and buying eggs for the kids.

"The NHS staff, especially in these uncertain times, have been incredible with everything that's going on with COVID.

"It's just a little gesture but I think it goes a long way."

Joe added: "We've had a lot of success at the academy over the last year. We're not even a year in yet and we're just at the beginning.

"There's big things on the horizon for us. We've just got to keep our head down, keep working away, and in the meantime, if we can just give a little bit back to the hospitals and the kids that are not going to be with us in the meantime with the hospital, then it puts a feel-good factor into everyone in the community."