A PENSIONER thought to be the oldest ballboy in English football has been recognised for his efforts by The Queen.

Jack Wolfenden, from Shuttleworth, swapped his pitchside spot at Ramsbottom United’s Harry Williams Riverside Stadium for the lush green of a Buckingham Palace garden party.

The 80-year-old, whose love affair with the semi-professional club dates back 34 years, was invited to London by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

He received a letter last December telling him he had been single out for his ‘outstanding services to sport in Ramsbottom’– but he still has no idea who nominated him.

Mr Wolfenden first became involved with the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League club in the 1980s when he turned up before a cup fixture and asked if he could help out.

He said: “When I asked the question, I didn't know what I was letting myself in for.”

Alongside chairman Harry Williams, Mr Wolfenden has been a constant presence as the Rams have risen from the Bolton Combination through the Manchester Football League and the North West Counties Football League to the Premier Division of the Northern Premier League.

Mr Wolfenden, also an avid cricket fan, has filled most roles at the club, including cleaning the clubhouse and selling matchday programmes.

After his day out at Buckingham Palace he said: “Not everybody gets the chance to go down to Buckingham Palace and I feel quite honoured.

A spokesman for the club said: “Everyone at Ramsbottom United was delighted that Jack received such an honour.”