PLAYERS and officials old and new have been celebrating Sutton United's 60th anniversary and paying tribute to the man who has been the club's cornerstone throughout those six decades.

Jim Williams, who is now 78, has been at the heart of matters since the club's formation in 1947.

Back in those post-war days, the club rules dictated that there had to be eight players from the local area, including Withington and Marden.

And, in a nice touch, with austerity gripping the country as it got back on its feet after six years of conflict, players who became fathers were each presented with a premium bond.

Sutton, whose first kit was a blue and white one which had been in storage since before the Second World War, when it was worn originally by Burmarsh FC, played their first league game against Rushall and their first cup tie was in the now long-defunct St Dunstan's Junior Cup.

Jim Finney, who would later go on to be one of England's top officials and refereed in the 1966 World Cup, was in charge of the first match.

There was no manager to pick the team which was, instead, chosen by a selection committee who decided on a Tuesday evening who would be in the team the following Saturday.

With National Service the order of the day, Jim Williams - usually known as Snowy - was no exception, but highlights of his regular visits home on leave from the army were the opportunities to play football for his village club.

And he certainly made his mark on his first trip back when, playing at centre-forward, he notched a hat-trick.

After army life, Jim's career saw him work as a mechanic at Praill's in Holmer Road and then in the melting department at Henry Wiggin before setting up in business with his brother Derek, another Sutton player.

But all through the years, Sutton United has been a constant in Jim's life and when his playing career - in which he was sent off just once, against Leintwardine - came to a close with one final stand-in appearance at the age of 50, he directed his energies towards committee work.

During their 60-year history, Sutton have moved grounds from their original headquarters, beside the Sutton to Hereford road, on at least 13 occasions.

Now, thanks to the generosity of Keith and Ann Harbour, they have been established at their current Amberley Park ground for several years where groundsman Jim, who has lived in the village all his life, works hard to keep everything in shape.

Behind many hard-working and dedicated sportsmen, there is often an equally hard-working and dedicated wife and Margaret, Jim's partner of almost 52 years, has played her part over the decades as the club's laundry girl'.

Jim has also not lacked for support from other members of his family. On one occasion at Bulmers' ground, Jim's late mother was sufficiently unimpressed with the referee's handling of the game to come on and hit the unfortunate official over the head with her umbrella.

On the field, Jim, whose Sutton side remain in contention for this season's Hereford Times Herefordshire League Premier Division title, has had plenty of success to enjoy over the years.

The villagers won the Herefordshire League Premier Division title in 1974-5 and the First Division championship in 1965-6, 1969-70 and 1981-2.

They were Premier Division runners-up in 2005-6.

Among various Cup successes have been victories in the HFA Junior Cup in 1981-2, the HFA Burghill Cup in 1962-3, and the HFL Junior Cup in 1969-70 and 1981-2.

Sutton United's 60 years, and Jim Williams' contribution, were celebrated last Saturday at an informal party at Karlo's in Hereford when Hereford Times Herefordshire League committee members, current and former players, committee members and supporters were all in attendance.