RYAN Peniston will face one of his toughest tasks yet when he takes on Sir Andy Murray at Wimbledon next week.

But the 27-year-old has never been afraid of a challenge - something his former Great Wakering Colts manager Tony Butcher can still vividly remember.

Peniston was a tenacious defender during his tentative years on the football field.

And Butcher could always rely upon Peniston to get stuck in!

“He just tackled everyone,” laughed Butcher.

“It was seven-a-side back then and I always used to play three at the back, partly because the other teams were good and partly because Ryan played there and he was the fittest player we had.

“He was the probably the only one who did as he was told as well.

“I always used to tell the defenders not to go past the halfway line and he never did.

“He was someone I could always rely on and I don’t think he went into the other half of the pitch until youth football.

“But I do remember him scoring a penalty against Rayleigh Boys once so he definitely went forward that day.”

Peniston – who reached the second round at Wimbledon last year – combined football with his tennis in those days.

However, it soon became apparent it was tennis where his future laid.

“He was always tennis, tennis, tennis,” said Butcher.

“He never did anything else so I was lucky he did play in my team too.

“He played for me in mini soccer.

“He started at under sevens and went through to the under 10s.

“He played one year in the youth and then some selfish dad came and told me he was better at tennis!”

Peniston certainly seems to have made the right decision and Butcher, who still lives in Wakering, continues to follow his career closely.

“He’s done superbly but he’s always worked so hard,” said Butcher.

“As we know he had his illnesses and allergies when he was younger but he’s done so well.

“He’s from a lovely family.

“They’re hard working and polite but don’t tell his dad I said that!”

Peniston’s family will all be at Wimbledon to watch his clash with Murray.

And Butcher will be watching from home – despite the knock on effect it has on his work in construction.”

"It’s a massive match and I hope it’s on centre court too,” said Butcher.

“I can’t wait to watch it but I never get any work done when he’s playing!

“Last year I was watching him in Surbiton, Nottingham and Queen’s which was great but my work just zeroed out.

“Hopefully the same can happen in the next few days!”