WILTSHIRE FA county secretary Mike Benson has retired after 50 years of loyal service to the game.

During a career which saw him begin as a referee in his 20s Benson went on to be made an honorary member of the FA, an honour enjoyed by an elite few including Sir Tom Finney and Sir Bobby Charlton.

During his career he presided over the County Association's change from being an organisation with honorary officers operating from their own homes, to one with a headquarters and full-time staff.

After moving to Swindon from Bristol in his early 20s to work at Pressed Steel, he began refereeing up to Contributory League level as well as taking on the role of referee appointments secretary with the Wiltshire Football League.

In 1984 he was elected to the Wilts FA and became a very active member of the organisation’s council, and in 1986 he became assistant county secretary taking on the responsibility for the administration of the County Cup competitions.

Following the death of Mick Parry in April 1999, Benson stepped up to become county secretary, and he worked tirelessly to ensure thousands of players could enjoy football in the county.

Anyone interested in taking over from Benson should visit www.wiltshirefa.com over the next few days.