It is very coincidental that I played my 1st game of football at the age of 5 in Elgar Avenue, for the not so well informed that is the last road on the left before Plymyard dressing rooms.

When my Dad finished work for the day the families of the avenue; the Smiths, Woodvines, Griffiths’s and more would assemble in the road, and using the trees that lined the road as goalposts, the young and the old, those being old enough to be my dad being too old, would start a 14/16 .a side match, bringing life to that quaint quiet Avenue.

I moved to Stockton on Tees at the age of 8 and played in goal for the schools that I attended including the grammar school.

I became player manager of the local youth club team Elmwood, won the youth league by a large margin before entering two teams in senior football, one in the Stockton and District and the other in the South Bank and District League, whose claim to fame was that Middlesbrough signed Wilf Marmion the England international from there, we did well finishing 1st and 4th respectively.

I moved back to the Eastham area in 1939 and started playing for Victoria United under Bill Povall, for years Secretary of the Ellesmere Port League.

One of my teammates was Alfie Davies, now chair of the Ellesmere Port Junior League.

After a few years with Bill I got the urge to manage my own team again and formed with a colleague, Gerry Fraser, a very successful Elmwood side.

It was whilst playing for this team that Ken Jones came behind my goal and told me of the adventurous plans to form the Eastham Junior League the following season in 1969.

I played until I was 42 but it was not until I retired from work in I994 that I took my 6 year old grandson Mark along to Stork Youth and Dave Dutton and Kev “GUYS” Pulham for them to show him the art of football.

It was not long before I was once again plunged into management when Dave blackmailed me into the job saying, “if no one takes over then the kids are going to have to go home”.

For the following two seasons we played in the Wallasey friendly league without winning a game!

When it came to the Eastham league under l0’s only one team was allowed to enter and that was when we became Eastham Blades.

The following two seasons we lost all our games by big margins, including a 10-1 defeat in our last match to Neston.

In the first match of the under 12 season we were winning 5-1 at half time and held on to win 5-4 for our first win in four seasons.

We then beat them two more times that season and that experience is a lesson to other teams who are not doing well, keep trying and keep competing.

We kept trying and competing, our scores against the topsides came down, we won more games but my big reflection was my last season, last season.

I reflected on drawing with Castrol twice, they won our division, being within 3 minutes of knocking Vauxhalls out of the cup, a narrow 2-1 defeat by princes athletic in the cup and many more matched that I had seen my team compete.

I was proud of them in this last season and I didn’t care who we played cause I believed in them.

To make my season complete, and a season to remember five days after the league AGM which I did not attend because I had stood down as secretary of the blades prior to the meeting I received the news that I had been voted manager of the year by fellow managers.

To say that I was astounded would be putting it mildly.

To put it crudely, I was gob smacked.

I rang all my players and thanked them for making me Manager of the Year and I want to thank all the managers who voted for me for making my last 60 years in football a memorable one.

I cannot remember in all my years of the Eastham Junior League having an argument with any of them and I wish to thank them all for that.

Who would have thought that 60 years ago playing next to Plymyard I would finish my football career playing our home matches at Plymyards.

Yours in sport

John Elliot.