JOHN Adams' 44 years of playing football will go up in smoke tomorrow following friendly advice from his doctor.

Last year, the 66-year-old Darlington grandfather was told it was time to hang up his boots after twisting his knee during an energetic five-a-side game. He was warned he might need a replacement knee if he carried on playing.

Tomorrow afternoon, his friends in the Darlington and District Five-a-Side League will hold a testimonial match in his honour on Haughton School playing fields.

Afterwards Mr Adams, a retired Rothmans' worker, has promised his wife, Joan, that he will burn his football boots.

Joining him on the day will be his brother-in-law, Geoff Corner, from Hurworth, who will be celebrating his 60th birthday, and brothers-in-law Ken and Tony Richardson, who are travelling to Darlington from Garforth and Holland respectively.

Mr Adams, of Wederly Close, who also plays golf and visits the gym, told the D&S Times he had enjoyed every footballing minute. He said: "The biggest moment in football for me has to be that I played until I was 66. Playing all these years has helped keep me fit and now I am walking to try to keep my knee supple.

"Saturday will be my very last game ever."

His dedication to five-as-side began in his early twenties when he left the RAF in Catterick.

After marriage, the couple made a home in Darlington and soon after Mr Adams starting playing five-a-side for a team at the Railway Institute. The rest is history.

Until his injury, he played four times a week, fitting in other sporting pursuits - and his long-suffering wife - in his spare time.

"I play golf twice a week and go to the gym four times a week - but Joan doesn't like either," he added.

"However, since the football finished we do a lot of walking together to stay in trim."

Mrs Adams, who retired from the Halifax Building Society six years ago, added: "I didn't think the day would ever come.