THE HGTA Herefordshire Junior Football League has grown 13-fold since it was introduced 25 years ago.

The league now boasts 104 teams and runs eight sections in a hugely successful set-up that has been responsible for helping to shape amateur football within the county.

Co-founder Dave Higgins has held the secretary's position throughout the league's existence and he hopes to attract a host of present and former players to a special Silver Jubilee dinner at the Three Counties Hotel on May 3.

Higgins said: "A majority of men's clubs in the county include past members of the junior league. A lot of people at the time did not think that a junior league in a small, rural county like Herefordshire could work. But I now wonder where amateur football in Hereford would be without the formation of the Herefordshire Junior League."

The league was launched by four men in 1978 to make provision for junior club football in the county for players aged 12.

Higgins was joined by Bill Bowkett - the first chairman - and John Bevan - the first treasurer - in making the league a reality. The trio believe there was a fourth co-founder - but they cannot remember his identity.

The organisers established an Under-13 Herefordshire Junior Friendly League, comprising eight teams, and a few years later a competitive league became affiliated to the Herefordshire FA.

All of their end-of-season finals have been staged at Hereford United's Edgar Street headquarters.

"At first we had 150 regular players but now we have 31 clubs and in excess of 2,500 players from Under-9 to Under-16," said Higgins.

"It is disappointing that we have not produced many professional players but our strength appears to be at county level.

"A few years ago we used to be the whipping boys against the larger counties. But you can see clearly from the results that this is no longer the case."

For details about the Herefordshire Junior Football League's Silver Jubilee dinner, contact Dave Higgins (01432 350839). He is hoping that member clubs will be presented with a commemorative plaque.