A REAL veteran of the round ball game is bouncing after passing a playing milestone at the age of 58, but with no plans yet to hang up his boots.

Colin Wharton made his 350th appearance for Trimdon Veterans of the Sunderland and District Mill View Social Club Over 40s’ League in a 4-0 cup victory over Doxy Lad earlier this month.

Having clocked up game number 351 in another 4-0 win, in a league game against Hedworthfield Red Hackle at the weekend, he is now heading for his new target of 400 matches, a rarity at this level of football.

The only slight downside on those milestone appearances was the evergreen striker’s failure to get on the scoresheet, in either win.

“I suppose I’ll accept it if we win 4-0 every week,” said the logistics company contract manager.

“I was thinking of retiring after a couple of injuries, including a bad one with a knee, but I think I’ll definitely aim to get to 400 now, playing into my 60s, touch wood.”

A former school and county footballer, who previously played at local league level for teams in Fishburn and Sedgefield, he was coaxed out of retirement by current teammate Shaun McElvaney, during a Vets’ injury crisis in 2007.

Having made a scoring debut as a second-half substitute, notching the equaliser at Heaton Winstons, he said he was “press-ganged” into resuming his playing days, not thinking he would still be turning out 14 years later.

Highlights since then have included the club’s earliest ever goal, after 11 seconds against DSS Darsley Park, and getting a ‘nap-hand’ of all five goals in a 5-0 mauling of Mill View WMC.

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