LITTLE Oakley Football Club are mourning the death of the club's most renowned goalscorer Melvyn Pickess, who has died at the age of 80, following heart problems.

Mel played for the club from the late 1950s and through the 1960s, scoring 300 goals for Oakley and participated in a long golden period for the team under the guidance of manager Fred Day.

During this period, the club were promoted into the Essex and Suffolk Border League and Mel's goals were a major factor in establishing the club at that level and winning the prestigious Division 1 Border League Cup in 1964.

His best season, the 1963-64 campaign, saw him score the amazing total of 80 league and cup goals to establish a record that is unlikely ever to be beaten.

Tall, skilful, strong in the air and brave Mel had the full range of abilities to create and take chances – and his achievements did not go unnoticed when he was invited to trial for Ipswich Town.

Along with several other local players, Mel played a series of trial games for Ipswich Reserves watched by legendary Ipswich manager Alf Ramsey.

The games were played on Saturday mornings, after which Mel would receive his expenses from Mr Ramsey (half-a-crown in old coinage) and then return by train to Little Oakley to play for the village team in the afternoon.

After retiring from football Mel continued his association with Ipswich Town by organising the local supporters coach from Harwich to attend games at Portman Road.

Local Ipswich supporters would get on the bus to be greeted by a Mel with a big smile and his linen bag to put their 50 pence fare in.

A warm, much-liked character, Mel will be sadly missed by many.