AFTER a career spanning 22 years in senior football, an Ayrshire footballing legend has played his last match.

Ian Cashmore Jnr played for the last time on Wednesday, May 17, as his current side Dirrans Athletic amateurs lost their final league match 4-3 to New Farm Loch.

It brought to an end an illustrious career which has seen 'Cashy' play mainly in the Ayrshire Junior Football ranks, with spells in the senior and then amateur leagues.

Of his own admission, Cashy has had "hunners of teams", and will take many friendships and memories with him as he hangs up his boots.

And speaking the day after his last match, the legendary goalscorer said he's surprised he's lasted this long - now aged 40.

Cumnock Chronicle: Cashy said it was a dream to play for Kilwinning Rangers.Cashy said it was a dream to play for Kilwinning Rangers. (Image: Kilwinning Rangers)

He commented: “See if you asked me when I was 30, ‘would I be playing to 40?’ I’d have been like ‘no chance!’

“But there you go, it’s mad, it’s just because you love the game.

“After my last game, I finished, I went home. It’s weird to think I won’t be training or playing games. It’s goIng to be weird but it’s definitely the right time.

“My wee boy Cillian, he’s going to be four in July, he’s football daft. It doesn’t matter if it’s football or karate – I know I’ll always be involved doing something.”

And though he has now called it a day, he admitted Father Time has just got the better of him.

"That’s just me getting pure old!" he joked.

He departs the game having achieved some lifelong ambitions since stepping into senior men's football aged 18.

Cashy began playing at Irvine Victoria, after moving up from Girdle Toll Boys Club, where he played alongside a number of other players who have become stalwarts of the Ayrshire game.

“It was a big jump at the time, I was skinny as anything back then and you were just flung in at the deep end," he said.

“I was lucky, I went in there and scored 20 odd goals my first season junior and loved it."

His goalscoring form earned Cashy a move to Troon, before he signed for Kilwinning Rangers, a club he played for on two occasions, totalling over four and a half seasons.

Here, he enjoyed some of his best years, and his form peaked as he enjoyed some of the best days of his career.

This included a West of Scotland Super League Premier Division win in his first season with the club.

Cashy commented: “That first spell at the Buffs was amazing, we won the league my first year, on the last day of the season – I got a hat-trick as well.

“That was probably the highlight (of my career).

Cumnock Chronicle: Cashy was a real fan's favourite at the Buffs.Cashy was a real fan's favourite at the Buffs. (Image: Kilwinning Rangers)

“It’s hard to narrow it down. I know it sounds cheesy but I used to go watch the Buffs with my dad because his pal was the manager.

“We would go watch the Buffs and I would always say to my dad ‘I’d be quite happy if I could play with the Buffs’.

“I was lucky enough - a Kilwinning boy, last game of the season, 2-1 down at half time – to score a hat-trick and we won the league winning the game 7-2, it was like a dream. Amazing times."

Cashy's career then led him elsewhere, as he ventured into the senior ranks with Ayr United. Though as he rarely featured, he was then on the move again as he departed for Stirling Albion.

Enjoying better days here, he and his teammates earned promotion that season. Though still unhappy with his playing time, he left Stirling for Stranraer at the end of the season.

That was his last senior club, before he returned to the juniors, and though he did not score as freely as in the past, he says it's not a decision he will ever regreat.

He commented: “I only scored eight goals in three senior years – but it’s eight more than some!

“I wouldn’t swap those three years, the experience was brilliant.

“When I was at Stirling we got Robert Snodgrass on loan, you can tell by the career he’s had, he was unbelievable – the best player I’ve ever played with.

“It’s just mad at that time you managed to play in the same team with a guy like that – it was incredible.”

His return to the juniors included a short, and little known, stint with Auchinleck Talbot for three months.

After that, Cashy explained: “Then they sold me to Cumnock, I don’t think there’s many folk that’s done that! I played with Auchinleck, Cumnock and Glenafton.”

Cumnock Chronicle: Cashy during his time at Glenafton - his third spell in East Ayrshire.Cashy during his time at Glenafton - his third spell in East Ayrshire. (Image: Glenafton Athletic)

Also included in his Argos catalogue of former clubs, Cashy had further spells in Ayrshire with Girvan, Ardrossan Winton Rovers and Dalry in his time.

Then, following the birth of his son, he came to local amateur side, 'The Dirrans', as he looked to reduce his playing commitments.

This saw him reunite with a number of former Girdle Toll Boys Club teammates as "we always said we’d finish with one last year together".

Though, as he explained: “I was only going to go for a year but it’s ended up being about four! But it’s been good.”

“They’re a brilliant club, I’m just gutted we never finished up winning anything.

Cumnock Chronicle: Cashy got his hands on silverware numerous times throughout his career.Cashy got his hands on silverware numerous times throughout his career. (Image: Submitted)

“About Christmas time we were sitting well in every tournament, and then in about five weeks we went out of everything.”

However, Cashy still says he is grateful to be bowing out on his own terms.

He added: “I’m lucky I get to end it this way though, some folk need to end it early through injury.

“I go back to my dad, he was 20/21 and was at Ayr – he had a training accident and never walked again.

“So I can’t complain that way, I’ve been lucky and it’s been really good.”

And having won his fair share of trophies in his time, he has got a career to look back on which he is very much proud of.

Cashy continued: “Scoring a goal at any level, you can’t beat it, the feeling when you see the ball and you know it’s in – it’s such a buzz.

Cumnock Chronicle: Cashy said he will miss that goal scoring feeling.Cashy said he will miss that goal scoring feeling. (Image: Submitted)

“That’ll be a thing I’ll just not get now but I’ve won a few leagues as well, that’s what you’re in football for.

“You see all these players making thousands and thousands of pounds – but for me you want to look back at your career and see what you’ve won. That’s what I’ve always been like.”

And as for the future, well Cashy has some exciting plans in the pipeline and plans to launch his own 'striker school' in the near future.

So it is still exciting times, and if anyone can teach that goalscoring touch, Cashy certainly can.