GARETH Ackery’s outstanding service to Leigh Ramblers football club has been recognised with a testimonial match in his honour at Belfairs Park.

Ackery has held a number of roles at Ramblers since first joining back in 1983.

And chairman Matthew Southgate believes that clubs like Leigh Ramblers would not exist without amazing people like Gareth.

“Gareth has played for pretty much every team and had every role on the committee too,” said Southgate.

“He’s been the treasurer, he’s managed teams, he’s been president and secretary, he’s worked behind the bar and even taken training sessions.

“Everything you can think of Gareth has done and the club and we were thrilled to be able to host this testimonial to try and show some appreciation for his fabulous efforts"

Ackery has now opted to wind things down with his involvement at Leigh Ramblers.

But he will always be a big part of the club, much to the delight of Southgate.

“He’s a huge character and he’s had some great banter down the years too,” said Southgate.

“He’s Welsh so naturally loves his rugby and is frequently seen wearing his Welsh rugby shirt.

"He also supports Liverpool so he’s always first to jump on the bandwagon and dish out some well received banter when the Liverpool scores come in.

However, it is not just at Ramblers where Ackery is a popular figure.

“Gareth also has great connections with Catholic United," said Southgate.

"He spent many years taking part at Leigh Ramblers on a Saturday and then heading over to Catholic United on a Sunday.

"Bearing in mind the fierce rivalry between the two local teams that goes back many years Gareth never wore his Catholic United shirt in the Rams clubhouse, maybe because he knew he would get a ribbing or maybe because he always knew the black and blue stripes of Rams just suited him better"

“The biggest award you can win at the club is Ram of the year and he won that both in 1990 and 2014.

"Each year a handful of people who have been seen to go above and beyond are shortlisted for the award.

"Although Gareth has won this twice, he must have made the shortlist at least 30 times.

Admiration for Ackery led to the match taking place between a number of his former team-mates at both Leigh Ramblers and Catholic United.

And it was a match enjoyed by everyone in attendance.

“The game was a very special and somewhat emotional to host at Belfairs Park” said Southgate.

“The Catholic team won but it was great to see all the old faces here.

“It was beautiful weather and he really got the day he deserved.

“They all had a lovely buffet in the clubhouse after their game before watching the first team battle Canning Town.

"In what's become a bit of a relegation battle for the club the first team went on to win and it was noticeable that Gareth's testimonial had set the tone for the day.

“There must have been at least 40 players involved and it was great to have everyone around.”

Gareth's son Richard is another key figure with Ramblers and Southgate also praised the role he plays.

“Richard is currently the secretary and the club couldn’t function without either him or Gareth, he really has learnt from the best" said Southgate

“They’ve both done so much and they’ve made my life so much easier as chairman.

“Local clubs like Leigh Ramblers are there for the community and to be a benefit to everyone in the society.

"These clubs are extremely special and hold a huge significance to the hundreds of members who take enjoyment from the club.

"Gareth and Richard have had a positive effect on so many local people sporting lives.

"I think they're both magnificent and we cannot thank them enough".

The match also raised in the region of £1,000 for a charity supporting Motor Neurone disease.