Guard of honour for footballer retiring just in time for his 75th birthday
Veteran footballer John King was given a fitting send off as he called full time on his playing career aged 74.
John, who played for Trimdon Veterans FC over 40’s, was given a guard of honour and surprised by all his family after taking to the pitch for the last time on Saturday.
The grandfather of six, who turns 75 next month, played the final 20 minutes of the match against Thornely Celtic before retiring after 238 appearances and an incredible playing career.
John said: “As soon as I stepped on the pitch both teams, all the subs and anyone watching all clapped, it was just absolutely fantastic.
"At the end people from both teams lined up and formed a guard of honour I had to walk through with everybody clapping, patting me on the back and saying well done.
"All the Thornley lads were brilliant. It was very, very emotional.”
John, who formed the Sunderland and District Over 40s league side back in 2001 with former Sedgefield over 40s players, had tried to dissuade his large family from being there.
"I just thought I was turning up to play a few minutes for my final game and say bye to the lads,” he said.
But they surprised him by turning out in their droves and made a large banner to mark the occasion.
After the game, John was given another standing ovation at The Black Bull pub in Trimdon where he was presented with a card, framed football shirt and album of pictures of him from over the years.
"To say they did me proud is a complete understatement,” added John, a retired quantity surveyor who lives in Durham.
"It all made for an unbelievable memory for me for the future.”
John, who is originally from Trimdon Station, had played organised football since school including for numerous North East lower league teams.
He put his longevity in the game down to his good health, including keeping fit by going to the gym and walking his dogs, and being lucky to avoid serious injury.
Before the game John said: “I always said I never wanted to outstay my welcome. I just feel it’s the right time to retire.”