Oldest Ramsbottom United ball boy covered in glory on football programme

Bury Times: Jack Wolfenden proudly clutches a copy of the Boxing Day programme Jack Wolfenden proudly clutches a copy of the Boxing Day programme

A long-time servant at Ramsbottom United football club celebrated his 80th birthday in style — with his face featuring on the club programme.

Jack Wolfenden became an octogenarian on Christmas Eve, and was at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium on Boxing Day where he sells the match programmes.

After he has sold out of programmes and completed his first job for the day, he then becomes a ball boy, retrieving balls which are kicked out of play, or even out of the stadium.

It is thought he could be the oldest ball boy in the country.

Jack, who has served the club for 34 years, received a special birthday surprise, as he was unaware that he would be featured in the programme he was selling for their fixture against Salford City.

As well as the match-day tasks, Jack can be seen completing other odd jobs such as marking the pitch and painting, and doing whatever needs to be done to help keep the stadium in prime condition.

Jack says he never expected to still be at the club after he first became involved more than three decades ago.

He said: “I turned up before a cup tie all those years ago to ask if there was anything that needed doing and after being told there was, I am still here!” Evidence of his hard work came before Christmas, when he decided to stay behind when the team was playing away at Bamber Bridge, and sweep leaves away from the terraces in time for two home matches over the festive period. Ramsbottom United was founded in 1966 by Harry Williams, who is still the chairman of the club, and in 2010 the stadium was renamed in his honour.

The club has progressed from the Bury Amateur League to its current placing in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division, which is three steps from the Football League. Mr Williams paid tribute to the work done by Jack to keep the ground looking spick and span.

He said: “Jack deserves praise for helping to keep this ground one of the cleanest in the league.

“If we had another six Jack Wolfendens, we’d be in the Conference!”

Jack lives in Bye Road, Shuttleworth, and is a former mill worker in Ramsbottom.

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