Wyresdale Rangers legend Phil Whitaker was honoured by team mates past and present at a special match at the club’s Woodacre Hall ground on Easter Sunday.
The game was between the current Wyresdale team who finished fourth in Division Two of the Lancashire Football Sunday League and a team of Wyresdale veterans who had turned out for the club over the past 10 seasons.
Phil was presented with a signed and framed Wyresdale shirt before kick-off.
Phil has stepped down from his roles as secretary and treasurer of the club after a decade at the helm and the turnout at the game of both players and spectators was testament to Phil and showed how highly he is regarded by the club. The celebrations continued after the game with a barbecue and a bouncy castle for the children.
A spokesperson for the club said: “Apart from his official roles, Phil does a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes for the club including keeping the ground in immaculate condition, washing the kit, and he is recognised as one of the most honest and efficient linesmen in the league.
“Phil’s work for Wyresdale was acknowledged by the League when he won the ‘Club Secretary of the Year’ award in 2008.”
The game itself was an entertaining fixture, ending in a hard fought 4-4 draw. The veterans stunned the current Wyresdale crop by racing into a 3-0 lead and, despite a consolation goal, the teams went in at half time with the score 3-1. However, Wyresdale came out fighting second half and, with tired legs beginning to show on the opposing side, they clawed back into a 4-3 lead.
The last kick of normal time was reserved for the hero of the hour, however, as the Veterans won a late penalty, and up stepped Phil Whitaker to calmly slot home.
Although Wyresdale won the resulting penalty shoot out 4-2, the game was playing in a fantastic spirit by both teams and it was refereed by Kevin Roberts one of the League’s top referees.
The spokesperson added: “Wyresdale Rangers thank Phil for his tremendous effort and support over the past decade and, although he is stepping down from official duties, they are delighted that he will continue to support the club.”
League Chairman Eamonn McNamara said: “Phil has been a truly outstanding club official, someone who always went out of his way to help and assist the League, and it is people like Phil who have made this a great League”.