Falmouth Town’s home game against Liverton United on Saturday was special for two reasons.
Most obviously, it marked the welcome return to football of Town striker Rob Wearne, who suffered a life-threatening skull fracture during a match against Elburton Villa last September.
But for another of Town’s players it represented a significant career milestone.
Ross Pope (pictured left), Falmouth’s combative number 8, and a permament fixture at the heart of midfield, celebrated his 251st appearance in the famous amber shirt.
Signed for the club by then-Combination League team manager Neil Phillips in 2000, Pope made his debut for the first team at Torpoint Athletic less than a year later on March 4, 2001.
And more than a decade on, Pope is still an integral part of Les Gilbert and Robbie Stephens’ side, and one of the first names on the teamsheet.
After Saturday’s game against Liverton, the club presented Pope with a commemorative tankard to mark the occasion, and it seemed fitting that Phillips be the one to present him with it.
“I signed him from Troon, I think it was, back when I was manager of the Combo team” Phillips - a Falmouth Town legend himself - remembers.
“Then the season after, the first team manager left and I took over. So I brought him through with me.
“He was never a problem - a real dream for a manager. He very rarely gets rattled on the pitch and he always gives you 100 per cent. I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
Aside from a brief spell at Truro City, where he made an appearance at Wembley as part of their FA Vase-winning side, Pope has spent the vast majority of his career at Bickland Park.
When asked what makes Falmouth Town so special, Pope wasted no time in answering.
“It feels like home,” he said. “I came down here to play in the combo side and I’ve enjoyed it ever since.”
“Falmouth’s still - and I know the Truro fans will hate me for this - but it’s still the biggest club in Cornwall.
“There’s the history here, and the ground’s brilliant. It’s just a great place to play football really.”
Pope is now 21st in the list of all-time appearances for Falmouth, and has no intention of stopping just yet.
“It’s an honour when you look at the players that have made 250,” he said. “ There are some real greats up there. It makes me very proud.”
But what of the tankard? Pope said he already had a place picked out for it.
“It’s definitely going to take pride of place on my mantlepiece,” he said.