Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

DICKIE AND THE FIVE D’S: The incredible story of the oldest footballer in the world

Posted on 11 July 2020 by Jake Jones

At 84-years-old, there are many people who believe that Weymouth’s Dickie Borthwick, is in fact, the oldest footballer in the world.

Borthwick began his love for the sport at six-years-old, he lived in Cove Street, 50-yards from Hope Square, which is now known as Brewers Quay, where he used to watch the local boys play football in the square.

At the tender age of six, Borthwick was eager to go and challenge the older boys that played. However, his Mother felt he was too young at this time, and she told him that in two years, he will be allowed to go and join in.

Those days finally came and an eight-year-old Borthwick was able to go a live his dreams, 76-years on, he is still living that dream to this day.

Borthwick has played amateur football across the entire UK, starting off in the North of Scotland at Invergordon and now a regular for the local pub-side A.F.C Smugglers, based in Weymouth.

A young Dickie Borthwick with his team at Invergordon.

Across his remarkable career, it is rumoured that he has scored around 400 goals and registered over 1000 assists, whilst playing primarily as a winger and central midfielder in his later career.

Although he has many fantastic memories during his time as a player, he told me that his favourite moment was scoring a hattrick at the incredible age of 64-years-old.

Borthwick’s reputation has been the speculation of regional and national media coverage and in 2012, he was invited to the opening of the National Football Museum in Manchester.

As a life-long Manchester United fan, Borthwick was able to meet and get photographs with some of his footballing idols, including Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Trevor Brooking.

However, his day did not stop here, as later that afternoon he was asked by the local photographer, Geoff Moore, to take his picture underneath a banner display at the Museum.

Little did Borthwick know, some months prior to this, Moore had submitted Borthwick’s photo and profile to the Museum, who had selected his image to be place on one of the flags that surround the building, with the word ‘Skill’ written over it.

Once more, this was a wonderful moment that Borthwick holds close to his heart.

Despite experiencing these unbelievable moments, things have not always been an easy journey for the sportsman.

Borthwick (Pictured) reminisces his younger days.

2013 brought a tough two-years for Borthwick, in what was his longest lay-off stint of his career. At the age of 76-years-old, Borthwick was diagnosed with a prostate cancer.

During a game of competitive football, an opposing player clattered into Borthwick, causing him to fall heavily on his back.

He decided to get the injury examined by the local GP who, despite finding no visible damage, decided to admit Borthwick for a pre-cautionary blood test.

A few days later, Borthwick was called into Dorchester Hospital, where he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Within a fortnight, Borthwick was sent to Poole Hospital, which was 30-miles away, to undergo a five-day a week treatment course, that lasted around eight-weeks.

Nearly 10-years down the line, Borthwick has retuned to football after receiving the all clear and has annual check-ups at the hospital.

Borthwick claims that football well and truly saved his life. He believes it was a blessing that he played football that day, as his injuries led him to get the tests that later saved his life.

Last year, Borthwick released a book based on his life called ‘Dickie and the Five D’s’

The title is based on the five key principles that he lives his life by.

Desire. Dedication. Determination. Discipline. Drive.

Borthwick’s book ‘Dickie and the five D’s’ was published earlier this year.