THE annual Dave Gardner Memorial Tournament will no longer be contested.

The tournament, held in memory of former footballer Dave Gardner, was contested by Falmouth Town, Helston Athletic, Penzance and Porthleven at the end of July every summer since its inception in 2005.

But with the current crop of players not having known Dave and it being increasingly difficult for his parents, who live in Spain, to fly over – as well as the ongoing threat of coronavirus meaning it may not be played this summer anyway – Dave’s family decided that it was time to bring an end to it.

Dave’s long-time friend and former Falmouth and Porthleven team-mate George Torrance said: “Dave's girls were grown up, you see, and you turn up there now and, to be honest, not a lot of the people that play any longer remember Dave, and they found that it wasn't like when it first started when everybody knew Dave, so it was just getting a little bit harder and a little bit tougher.

"It's run its course, it's had 14 years and we've made some good money for St Julia's Hospice, and his family just decided that maybe we'll knock it on the head.

"It coincides that Dave's mum and dad, who are out in Spain, are unable to fly over, they're getting elderly, so everything just came to the right time [to end it], so we said we'll give them early enough notice and if the season goes ahead next year they can organise their own pre-seasons, but we won't be running it in Dave's name any longer.”

READ MORE: Porthleven win final Dave Gardner Memorial Tournament in 2019

Dave, a dominating centre-half, had played for all four clubs during his time before dying of cancer in September 2003, aged just 36.

The tournament raised thousands of pounds for St Julia’s Hospice every year in his memory, and while an official final figure is still to be confirmed by the hospice, the 15 editions of the competition are believed to have raised somewhere between £40,000 and £50,000.

Dave came to Cornwall when he was 17 and joined Penzance, before swapping Penlee Park for Bickland Park in August 1987 after being persuaded to join Falmouth Town by then-manager David Wadd.

He enjoyed a highly-successful seven-year spell at Town, scoring 60 goals in 258 games and winning three South Western League championships, two SWL Cups and three Cornwall Senior Cup runners-up medals.

After the 1993/94 season he moved to Porthleven with Town boss Trevor Mewton, who had succeeded Wadd, and latterly helped Alan Carey and Torrance as coach before once more moving to Penzance.

Originally just a one-off tournament and family fun day, the tournament evolved into a round-robin competition held over eight or nine days, with the final round of fixtures taking place on the same day in a double-header at one of the four clubs’ ground, with hosting duties rotated between the quartet of clubs every year.

That first tournament was held at Helston’s Kellaway Park in 2005 and was won by Penzance, with Porthleven emerging victorious in the final edition last summer.

Falmouth Town were the most successful of the four clubs, winning the tournament on six occasions. Helston won the tournament four times, Penzance won three times and Porthleven won twice.