The veteran footballer getting ready to finally hang up his boots at the age of 74
Amateur footballer John King is set to hang up his boots – at the grand old age of 74.
John, a granddad of six, has been a passionate player for over 60 years after playing since school and in local lower leagues almost all his life.
This Saturday is set to be the final whistle as he prepares to make his final appearance for Trimdon Veterans FC over 40’s team, which play in the Sunderland and District Over 40’s league.
John, who turns 75 next month, has been called a ‘legend' by teammates and puts his amazing longevity down to his good general health and the fact he has avoided any serious injuries.
He said: “It's a bit embarrassing to be called a legend because I’ve been playing so long. It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed.
"A year goes by then another year. I always said I never wanted to outstay my welcome.
"I just feel it’s the right time to retire. I’ve thought about it for a long time. The lads all tried to persuade me to carry on.
“I’m 75 next month and not many people play to that sort of age on a regular basis which I have.”
John, a retired quantity surveyor of Durham, founded the side which plays in Division Four of the Sunderland and District Over 40’s league, in 2001 while in his early 50s with a nucleus of former Sedgefield Over 40s players.
"I was starting not to get a game regularly,” he said. “I said to the lads ‘why don’t we start again from the bottom and enjoy it for as long as we can?’
"We did and I’m the last one standing.”
John, originally from Trimdon Station who is married to Lesley, has gone on to make 238 appearances, score four goals, four assists, and get four Man of the Match awards.
He added: "A lot of people think it’s a friendly kickabout but it’s as competitive as when you were 18, it’s just everybody's older.
"I’ve been very fortunate with my health and lack of major injuries. There were times when my wife would ask ‘can you be bothered' when it has been a cold, wet day and snowing, but I’ve done it all my life.
"If it's cold you soon warm up and you can only get wet once. And the dressing room is the funniest place in the world.
"There’s always a tale to tell, and you go out with a smile on your face and hopefully come back with one as well.”
John, who plays left-back and has also served as club secretary until recently, said Saturday’s final game away to Thornley Celtic at Thornley Welfare Park will undoubtedly be an emotional one.
But he said he will be back to cheer the team on from the sidelines.
Trimdon Veterans player and club official Colin Wharton said: “Over this period, he has lived and breathed the club and will be a big miss, not just to the team but everyone associated with the league.”