A special testimonial football match took place at Gunnislake AFC's home ground this afternoon to officially bid farewell to a legend who has been with the club for over 40 years.

Two sides of players from the club of mixed ages — including the man himself — took to the pitch at Butts Meadow in honour of Mark Southcott, who has been with Gunnislake AFC since the age of 14 when he first joined for the 1980/81 season. His time with the club has stretched 43 years, with Mark officially hanging up his boots for the final time and retiring at the end of last season earlier this year.

At the sound of the final whistle, fellow players and club committee members assembled on the pitch to say their thanks and goodbyes to Mark, presenting him with a special shield to commemorate his time with and everything he has done for the club.

Upon being presented with the shield, Mark said: "I started a long time ago, having been on the pitch with many players of all abilities; I've seen a lot come through the gates. The first goal I ever scored was past my uncle! I've also played with my cousin Andrew for 20 years — he was my wingman. Over 43 years I've been a player for the first and second sides, been on the committee and the club's manager.

"I'm still going to be involved with the club scene in some way, if coaching or just spectating. Whatever happens, I know this club will always go forward."

Andy Brown, social media manager and team first aider, said: "We're really sad to see Mark go — he's one of our longest serving club members and has done so much behind the scenes. I've been here on and off for 19 years and known him since I was about 20. People come and go from clubs all the time but he’s always been here, helped out in difficult times and done more than his fair share, even if it's just painting the dugouts or stepping into the role of manager straight away when the post has been vacated. He's good as gold and football will always be in his blood."

Following the match, players and spectators enjoyed drinks and a barbecue. Money raised from the sale of food and drink is to be directed straight into the club, where the pitch at Butts Meadow is currently in the final stages of renovation work with both sides — the first team and a reserve team playing in the St Piran’s Premier Division and St Piran’s Division Three — playing only away games (now the new season has started) until the end of September whilst work is finished.

Club secretary Michael Kinger said: "There’s always money to be spent on upgrading facilities, whether it's pitch renovations or upkeep of the changing rooms. We started work earlier in the summer rebuilding the bottom corner of the pitch with new turf and we’re letting it settle now.

"I started with the club 26 years ago and Mark was there then before me. I don’t think any of the players back then are still here other than him. He’s always held the club and the team together as a manager and a player; he's been so influential. He's now been succeeded by Tom Sainsbury as manager but I know he'll always be here to support us, no matter what."

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