WHEN the three Buckley brothers – Darren, Jason and Allan – announced the hanging up of their respective football boots this season, Richard Chown, the chairman of Carharrack and the man behind the Cornwall Football Forum, organised a testimonial match in recognition of their almost 30 years of football in Cornwall.
And he nominated the Cornwall Air Ambulance as the charity to benefit.
The brothers, originally from Oldham, have been living in Cornwall for some 30 years and so have played all of their competitive adult football in the county (collectively, an impressive 90 years no less) and although they have never lost their Lancashire accents they have been adopted by their piers as 'locals' in terms of football at least.
Between them, they have played at Junior and Combination level for teams including Porthleven, Penryn, Chacewater, Falmouth Town, Perranwell, Holmans and Illogan and have won the Cornwall Junior Cup three times, three Combination League titles and countless more Junior league and cups.
The date was set and the brothers began their search for a formidable team picked from their past team-mates.
This was not an easy task as a lot of the players they wanted had long since retired – perhaps not possessing the Buckleys' good genes which seem to have enabled them to remain the same size they were 25 years ago and still fit enough to play competitively well into their 40s.
Nevertheless, a good team of well-known Cornish footballers was chosen to play against the Forum's Trelawny League team and to a man they accepted. Nick Ward, manager of Illogan Reserves, was manager for the Trelawny invitational side and picked a good team of current players. The stage was set.
On match day, a strip was kindly provided by Paul Murray, manager of Wendron Football Club, for the Buckleys' team and even though several there thought Paul had shrunk the shirts they donned the strip and were ready to go.
In keeping with the 'vintage' theme of the day the referee, Liz Ashton, had also been chosen as someone who had refereed the Buckley team all those years ago. Liz regularly took control of Junior, Combination and South Western League games in Cornwall and had just been promoted to the Western League when she was forced into early retirement through a knee injury.
Liz agreed to 'stand' in the middle for as long as she could stay upright and blow the whistle for them. The pitch at Carharrack was beautifully prepared and everyone thanked Billy and Barry for their hard work.
Thanks were also given to Janet and everyone at Carharrack Social Club who put on a fantastic barbecue after the match with all the food kindly provided by Mark Etherington of Brian Etherington Meats at a charitably low price, along with a signed shirt from Mark's cousin, Stoke City's Matt Etherington.
With the gate money, a raffle, donations from all the players and others from the Forum who were unable to attend but who donated on line, the total raised so far for the Cornwall Air Ambulance stands at an impressive £427.
The final result was 3-2 to the Trelawny League team and even though the Buckleys were not triumphant on their last appearance the match was played in a very good spirits and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day.
With a few minutes to go to the end of the match, three Buckley children came on to play and Tyler Buckley (11) scored a cracking goal to the astonishment of the Trelawny keeper.
After the match, Richard Chown thanked the brothers for their dedication over the past 30 years and awarded them a silver trophy from an anonymous donor for their services to Cornish football.
He also then awarded all three jointly the 'Men of the Match' award and presented them with a bottle of champagne.