A FOOTBALL club groundsman who has transformed a pitch from quagmire to quality has no plans to quit, despite celebrating his 80th birthday.

Alf Dunnington has become an institution at Harrogate Town's Wetherby Road ground.

Six days a week for more than 25 years Alf has tended the pitch, helped by his 67-year-old brother and former club chairman George Dunnington, now life president of the club.

Alf's hackles rise at the suggestion that he might even consider stepping down from his post.

He said: "Retire? Not likely. I know lots of people who have retired and get into a routine of going for their newspaper and walking the dogs. But quite a few of them have died. I like to carry on working, but never on a Sunday."

During his time as groundsman Alf, of Markenfield Road, Harrogate, and his back-up team have used tons of sand to beat the glue pot status of the pitch, as well as installing a drainage system.

To mark his 80th, Alf was invited to step on to his hallowed pitch before Harrogate's latest home match in Conference North against Worksop Town.

A presentation was made by chairman Bill Fotherby which brought a collective round of applause from the crowd.

Club company secretary Brian Russell said: "Alf gives tremendous service as our groundsman. Whenever you come to the ground he's always here.

"He is quite remarkable for his age and still shows the same enthusiasm for keeping the ground well as he did years ago."

Alf paid tribute to other helpers including Geoff Butler and his 18-year-old grandson Ian Whyte.