AVON Athletic have always been at the forefront of Widnes amateur football.

But that was exactly what their late secretary Derek Roylance planned when they were born in the Swinging Sixties.

The club had spent two years playing friendlies under the banner of Black Dentons Place.

But for entry to league football in 1965, Derek came up with the new name of Avon.

'He chose it because it began with an A and he wanted to be the first team on the fixture list,' explained Terry Walsh, the club's general manager.

But this was just about typical of the man, whose attention to detail was meticulous as he strived to make Athletic the best.

So much so he has left them a complete archive which will form the backdrop to a special evening marking their 40 seasons in the game.

'We are the oldest surviving football club in Widnes but without Derek, it wouldn't have lasted 40 years,' added Walsh.

The annual Widnes Cup competition -revived by the Widnes Football Development Forum - is a memorial to one of the finest servants to football in the town.

Walsh said: 'He was a great friend of mine and possibly the nicest fellow I've ever worked with.

'He was also a fantastic secretary with all the records and photographs he kept.'

The club's ruby anniversary function takes place tomorrow (Friday) at Widnes Recreation Club, which is now home to the club's two senior teams.

'We'll have a room full of match reports, all the team sheets going back to 1965 and a photograph from every year,' said Walsh, himself a long-serving former Avon player and first-team manager.

'We have always had a friendly atmosphere and players keeping in touch with us.

'I can't ever see it folding because of the club's name and history. We also have a lot of good aims and objectives for the future.'

Avon's first and reserve sides play in the Warrington & District Saturday League.

The first team is bossed by stalwart Dave Pierce - still going strong on the field after a record 350-plus club appearances.

Mark Currier - brother of ex-Widnes rugby league star Andy - is the new reserves manager and has Peter Mc-Cormack as his deputy.

Avon moved to the Rec three seasons ago after a long association with St Marie's Amateur Rugby League Club.

'We were with them for nearly 20 years but they ran out of playing area,' explained Avon's general manager.

'We've had 13 tours to the Isle of Man as well as a couple in France and a couple of the rugby lads came with us on several occasions and played.

'I tried to get them to switch codes - to no avail! We've still got some very good friends at the Marie's.'

Since making the short hop to the former ICI recreation ground, Avon have also been well looked after - the buffets dished up by stewardess Sheila Potter are legendary.

In its time, the club has seen duty in the defunct Widnes Alliance and South Wirral League plus the Liverpool County Combination and Central Cheshire League.

Its strong and seasoned committee is headed by chairman Peter Moran and secretary Cliff Heaton, both having had more than 20 years' involvement.

Walsh, meanwhile, played for Derby County Reserves in his mid-20s and he also made one first-team appearance for Chesterfield.

He also served St Basil's, Sundowner and Sporting Ford in local Saturday football but is particularly proud of his stint at beloved Avon.

He said: 'I have lost count of the cups we have won.

'We are the envy of most teams - especially around this area.

'We won four in one season, when I was manager, in the Central Cheshire League - and there were some good teams in that as well.'

Tickets for the 40th anniversary function are £5 each - including entertainment from the group Brothers Grimm plus buffet - and available from Widnes Recreation Club.

The club hopes as many past and present players as possible will attend.