A FOOTBALL club celebrating its 40th birthday this year is targeting another four decades of being at the heart of the community.

Witney-based Spartan Rangers threw a party at Burwell Hall to mark the milestone, with generations of players gathering to share their memories.

The club have enjoyed success on and off the pitch since they were formed in 1979 - despite having moved headquarters several times.

Among almost 300 people at the event on July 27 was ex-player and manager Alfie Saunders, who has been club secretary for 35 years.

The 57-year-old from Witney said the turnout showed the special bond between the club and its former members.

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He added: “It’s been a great effort by everybody to keep going this long. A lot of members who were around in the early days came back.

“It’s now about bringing the club to younger players and supporters so it can keep going for another 40 years.

“We haven’t alway been successful on the pitch - there’s probably been more years we haven’t won things than we have.

“The club’s longevity is in its members, that’s what the club is built around.”

Rangers were formed in 1979 when two men with a shared love of football, John Coleman and Simon Gotobed, decided to enter a team in the fifth division of the Witney & District league.

Mr Saunders joined one year later and captained the team to five successive league titles, gaining promotion to the premier division, and several cup competitions.

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He also managed Rangers for 20 years from the mid-1980s.

The club claim to be the longest-established men's football team in Witney and have always played at The Leys recreation ground.

But they have had many headquarters, including The Three Horseshoes pub, The Angel Inn and longstanding sponsor Witney Snooker & Pool Club.

As well as the on-pitch success, Rangers have raised thousands for Guide Dogs for the Blind - even getting their own puppy, Ranger - and raised £5,000 for a young woman who needed treatment to help her walk.

The club have also supported Witney Community Hospital and the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and started a veterans team in the early 1990s.

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They still have three senior men's teams and various youth sides, with Mr Saunders revealing Rangers want to become the premier men's club in the town, after Witney Town FC folded in 2013.

He said: “There’s no main senior men’s team in Witney, which for a town of this size isn’t very clever. It’s on our to-do list to fill this gap.”

Players and staff from every decade attended the 40th anniversary party, including co-founder Mr Gotobed, who remains a committee member.

The hall was decked out with memorabilia from the last four decades, while players, supporters and their families contributed to a memory wall.

There was also a bar, barbecue, penalty shoot out and quiz, plus the ceremonial cutting of a yellow and blue cake.