PETE King has called time on his extraordinary frontline service to North Leigh.

After more than half a century, where he has filled most roles at the club from player to chairman, via manager and groundsman, the 71-year-old has stepped down.

“I think I’ve done my bit,” he said, which must be the understatement of the century.

“I just think it’s time for other people to get involved, but while I’m at the helm it’s easy to take a backseat.

“It’s just a passion and it’s been in my blood since I was a teenager.

“I will probably find it hard to begin with, but I will still be around helping.”

Born and bred in the village, King was involved as a teenager to help the Millers reform in 1967.

He played into his 40s, by which time he was also the manager of a hugely successful side in the Witney & District League.

They reached the Hellenic League in 1990, winning the Premier Division title in 2001/02, 2002/03 and 2007/08.

A decade in the Southern League has followed, although that status was perilous this campaign before a late surge to safety.

King, who had been chairman for three decades, said: “I made a point of going into the changing room towards the end of the season and saying we have never, ever had a relegation at this club.

“They did us proud in the end.

“There have been so many highlights.

“I’ve been proud to see us pitting our wits against big clubs in the league.

“And seeing the club lift the Oxfordshire Senior Cup on three occasions was amazing when you consider we are a small village club.”

The announcement brought a flurry of tributes from across the non-league scene.

Craig Dore, North Leigh’s joint manager, hailed King’s commitment.

He said: “Pete was down at the ground at 6am on Saturday digging the goalmouths out.

“He’s ‘Mr North Leigh’, as everyone calls him – a one-off.

“Clubs don’t exist without people like him.

“He will still be doing something for the club, that sums him up that he’s still prepared to do it.”

The club have had time to prepare for the change in leadership, which will be confirmed during the summer.

Sharon James, the club’s secretary, said: “Arrangements are in hand for a smooth and orderly succession and handover.

“I look forward to saying more regarding the future of the club after the club’s AGM next month.”