Local football loses a 'true footballing gentleman and a legend of the game' with the passing of Frank Delling.

PUBLISHED: 19:16 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:05 29 July 2019

Frank Delling's 77th birthday football match at Budleigh Salterton. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exsp 1431-19-14AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo Orders

Frank Delling's 77th birthday football match at Budleigh Salterton. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exsp 1431-19-14AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo Orders

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Football followers in Exmouth and the surrounding area are today mourning the loss of Frank Delling who recently passed away aged 84, writes John Dibsdall.

Frank Delling's 77th birthday football match at Budleigh Salterton. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exsp 1523-19-14AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo OrdersFrank Delling's 77th birthday football match at Budleigh Salterton. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exsp 1523-19-14AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo Orders

Born in Burnthouse Lane Exeter, Frank was one of the true characters of local football representing and being involved in many clubs in the area.

Going to school in Exeter, Frank excelled in all sports and represented the county at Football and Table Tennis. He completed his National Service in the RAF being stationed in Cyprus and North Devon and was part of the catering division.

He worked for Neal's Dry Cleaning before starting his own business, Wessex Cleaning and opened a shop in Rolle Street that ran for 17 years. He then became involved in the newsagency business in Exeter.

He played for many football clubs including St Thomas, Budleigh Salterton, Exwick and Littleham. His most successful season came whilst playing for Newton Poppleford when they went through the season undefeated winning five cups in the process. In later years he was a great help to many clubs, among others Exmouth Amateurs and also ran a Saturday morning soccer school for children at Exmouth Town.

Frank Delling's 77th birthday football match at Budleigh Salterton. Fank lends a hand to a fellow playe. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exsp 1568-19-14AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo OrdersFrank Delling's 77th birthday football match at Budleigh Salterton. Fank lends a hand to a fellow playe. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exsp 1568-19-14AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo Orders

He was a big fan of Exeter City and Manchester United and all local football. He was very competitive as a player and many of his opponents still bear the scars and he celebrated his 80th birthday with a veteran's game at St James' Park.

I think the occasion finally got the better of him as all the opposition were still on their feet at the end of the game and the referee was able to keep his cards in his pocket.

Unlike when he played Walking Football at Exmouth Community College and was sent off at the age of 82!

When Exmouth Town hosted a youthful Exeter City side last Wednesday Frank's very good friend and indeed a friend of both clubs, George Kent, gave a donation to Town from Frank's family for which the club are grateful.

They will now consider how best to use the money to provide a fitting memorial in Frank's name. Many of Frank's friends in football were present at the game and joined in the minute's applause that rang around the ground.

He was 'one in a million' and had bravely fought cancer for many years refusing to let it get the better of him and had continued to play and live his life to the full. He will be missed.

To read more tributes, click here.

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