TWO of Bolton's most well-known and successful grassroots football officials have stepped down after more than 30 years' service.

Husband-and-wife Tom and Lesley Allon have been the heartbeat of Horwich St Mary's Junior Football Club, whose managers, parents and players gathered at the Scholes Bank club to pay tribute to their work.

During their three decades running St Mary's the couple have transformed it from a club with half a dozen teams to, at its peak, one boasting more than 500 youngsters playing all year round.

They also spearheaded a number of fundraising initiatives which led to the redevelopment of the ground into one of the best grassroots football facilities in the country.

The new clubhouse and pitches were completed in 2015 and were opened by former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville.

Under the Allons' leadership, St Mary’s was voted Bolton's sports club of the year and Lancashire Charter Standard club of the year.

Both are on the Spirit of Sport statue at Middlebrook, and helped instil a strong ethos of fair play at the club, providing football for all youngsters regardless of their ability.

Lesley also served as secretary of the Bolton, Bury and District Junior Football League, and as a council member for Lancashire FA with responsibility for youth leagues in the county.

She was a pioneer of the small-sided game in Bolton, and recently launched the Community Partnership Junior Football League for teams in the Bolton area.

At the night held in their honour, Lesley and Tom were presented with a specially-commissioned painting of the Scholes Bank facilities in recognition of their exceptional service to the club and grassroots football in Bolton.

Tom's successor as chairman of Horwich St Mary's, Danny Barry, said: “It was a fantastic evening celebrating a truly exceptional couple who have dedicated a large portion of their lives to this club, and grassroots football in Bolton and Lancashire.”

Lesley has been succeeded in her role as secretary of the club by Russell Walmsley, who said: "The club's long-standing ethos will be retained.

"We have spaces available in a number of age groups and we will look forward to welcoming new players of any age, race, sex or ability to join this fantastic club.”