A SAINTS legend joined the mayor of Winchester at the weekend to open the improved King George V Playing Fields.

Former England player Mick Channon, who was part of the 1976 FA Cup-winning Saints team, was in Bar End on Sunday following significant investment from Winchester City Council.

As well as mayor Cllr Frank Pearson, Mick was joined by Winchester City Council’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing Cllr Lisa Griffiths, and the Winchester City Flyers girls football team, where Mick’s granddaughter Evie Morrall plays.

New goal posts and pitch markings have transformed the fields, with the facilities now including improved access and 11 football pitches that have adult full-size markings overlaid with pitch marking for youth football.

The new facilities were put to the test on Sunday, when almost 1,000 players competed in the Flyers’ annual girls football tournament.

The opening of the new facility coincides with the formation of a new Girls League – Hampshire Girls Youth Football League (HGYFL). Winchester and District Girls Football League has permanently moved to King George V Playing Fields securing the future of girls football in the district.

Cllr Griffiths said: “It’s great to see so many girls out playing football and having fun. Delivering these pitches on time for the new season and within budget has been a lot of hard work but events like this make it all worthwhile.

“This investment means more football can be played during the football season, including during the wet months when previously matches have had to be postponed due to waterlogging.”

Winchester City Flyers chairman Allan Higgs added: “We are extremely grateful to the council for their hard work and efforts in securing us this venue which is a superb setting from which to continue to grow female football.

“The council’s shared passion for the female game is beyond dispute and we are pleased to have such great supporters of the work we do on our side. We look forward to many long and happy years at King George’s as an established base to allow us to continue to promote and grow the female game.”