Ryan Giggs may still be playing top flight football as he approaches 40, but he’s a mere youngster compared with one Northampton footballer, who may well be the oldest player in the country.
Frankie Delling is still turning out for his six-a-side team every week at the age of 76, and he says he has no intention of hanging up his boots any time soon.
Mr Delling, who plays at Kingsthorpe College every week, said he was still “intrigued” by football, a game which has been part of his life for more than 70 years.
He said: “My first football memory was playing in school at the age of six. The highest level I ever got to was playing for the RAF against a Cypriot Representative team while I was on National Service, but playing football is something I have always done. At my age it’s just nice to be asked.”
Mr Delling was nearly forced to give up the game at the age of 30, when he was struggling to overcome a series of ankle injuries that had dogged him. It was then he received the advice that he credits with his longevity.
He said: “The doctor told me to give up smoking and the injuries just cleared up. In fact, I played some of my best football between the ages of 30 and 45.”
Asked if he had any advice for youngsters who wanted to follow in his footsteps, Mr Delling said: “Not much alcohol, eat well but stop before you’re full.”
On his own future, Mr Delling added: “Every day, I am feeling fitter and sharper and I want to carry on playing for as long as I possibly can.”
Mr Delling plays for Armageddon Tired in a competition run by Leisure Leagues.
Their spokesman, Damian Bryson, said: “Frankie’s tale is exactly the sort of thing the league is designed to promote.
“We want our competitions to be very much the focal point of their community and to be as inclusive as possible so that anyone can play, and what Frankie is doing proves that it works.”
The leagues are open to anyone aged 16 and over. For details call 0333 123 2340 or visit www.leisureleagues.net