A man who first joined a football club as a player 45 years ago has been given an award for “exemplary service” after rising through the ranks to become secretary.

John Brooks, 74, was nominated for the Essex County FA award by his colleague at Hale End Athletic FC, Paul Walters, for his dedication over the decades.

The 74-year-old was presented with his award by Justin Edinburgh, head coach of Leyton Orient, at a ceremony at Chelmsford Racecourse on Tuesday, July 31.

Mr Brooks was praised by Essex County FA for being a “stalwart” member of the Walthamstow club since he joined in his 30s.

“The players and volunteers came up to congratulate me and it is nice to be recognised,” said Mr Brooks.

“It was also great to meet so many other people who share my passion for grassroots football.”

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One of the club's teams wearing this season's new kit.

The club, which celebrated its 90th anniversary in June, recently announced ex-player Michael Brockman of ThingCo as sponsor of this season’s kits.

“After playing for the club for a number of years it’s nice to be able to give something back to a great club that I enjoyed playing for,” said Mr Brockman.