A FOOTBALLER from Bournemouth has finally won his club cap after 66 years of waiting. Joe Seaward, 82, who lives in Iford, represented Hampshire in his youth and also played for Bournemouth Poppies and Christchurch FC.

In December 1952 the Echo reported that multi-talented Joe, who had been scouted by Arsenal and also represented Bournemouth at table-tennis, had to make a choice between sport and a career in landscape gardening. Under the headline ‘pruning problem for Joe’, the report said: “He did a full morning’s gardening with his father, hurried through his dinner, played a 90 minute soccer match for Iford in the afternoon and raced to Southampton to win all three singles matches in the table-tennis game with Southampton.”

Eventually Joe decided on the better paid career as a landscape gardener, got married to wife June, who died in 2012, and had six children.

Now suffering with poor health, his granddaughter, Tasha Dix, became determined for him to have a memento of his football days, in particular his time representing Hampshire, after he spoke so fondly about his memories playing for them.

“We are all so proud of him but one thing that has always saddened him is that although he played for his county, he was never given anything to acknowledge this, unlike many other players and even his brother, Edward, before him,” said Tasha. “I really wanted to resolve it for him. I wanted to do something that would cheer him up and put a smile back on his face.”

After emailing Hampshire FA to relay her granddad’s story, their chief executive, Neil Cassar, sent Joe his long-awaited cap along with a letter apologising for the delay. “Neil Cassar was brilliant,” added Tasha. “Grandad had been waiting for 66 years and was just over the moon when he finally saw it.”