A hotshot striker boasting a near goal-a-game record over 21 years has been honoured after reaching the 500-match milestone.

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Acle Rangers chairman Colin Tovell made a surprise trophy presentation to Julian Bussell, who has been knocking the goals in since he was a teenager and is showing no signs of stopping at the age of 39.

“His loyalty and enthusiasm for the club is second to none – the statistics speak for themselves,” said Tovell, who recalled signing him after being impressed by his finishing skills for Dereham Youth.

“He lived in Acle and I met him two or three times and I went to see his dad as well. When Julian does retire it will be a hell of a job to replace him. As well as his goalscoring, his hold-up play is so good as well. I would love a team of 11 Julian Bussells.”

Colin added: “I think an achievement like this deserves to be recognised. He is held in high esteem by everyone at the club and he has earned that right.”

Julian is easily the club’s all-time leading goalscorer and is only the second player to make 500 appearances, with Shane Tovell, who has retired, the only other one.

Thanks to club supporter and statistician Paul High, Julian knew that the milestone was coming up, but was surprised by the presentation, made before Rangers’ final home game of the season – a 1-0 win over Norwich Busmen on Sunday.

He said the reasons for staying with Rangers for so long were “down to the atmosphere and the camaraderie” at the Bridewell Lane club.

Asked how long he could continue, he said: “It’s the old cliché of taking each game at a time. I would just like to be involved for as long as I can.”

Julian’s current goal tally stands at 443, most of them scored at senior level in the Norwich Sunday and Yarmouth Sunday leagues.

He played at Carrow Road when Rangers were beaten in the 2000 Norfolk Sunday Senior Cup final by Fenman Freehouse and helped Rangers to win the Pink Un League Cup by beating Dog House last season.

“I haven’t really chipped in with fives or sixes – it’s been more a case of scoring twos and threes on a regular basis,” said Julian, who has turned out for Saturday sides Blofield, Acle and Yarmouth over the years and is currently assistant manager for Anglian Combination Division Three promotion-chasers Hemsby.

The Rangers team, manager by Richard Westgate, have booked a respectable fourth place in their third season since returning to the top flight, and the club’s reserves run by Garie Willgress are celebrating winning Division 2b.

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