ALMOST 500 people turned out at Sholing on Saturday to pay homage to one of the longest-serving managers in local non-League.

The Universal Stadium gates were thrown open free of charge to salute Diaper’s 900th game at the Boatmen’s helm.

Diaper was the centre of attention before kick-off, picking up the Sydenhams Premier Club-of-the-Month award for February before receiving a framed photo montage from his lifelong friend and club vice-chairman Mick Brown.

Chairman Gerry Roberts then presented him with an engraved plaque and the presentations were capped off by a Sholing shirt, signed by the players and club staff, handed to him by his son Marc.

Given the grand build-up to the game, it seemed only right and proper that the Sholing team turned on a show for the big occasion.

They duly delivered with a convincing 5-0 thrashing of Bournemouth Poppies to stay fourth in the table.

Top scorer Dan Mason opened up proceedings with an 18th-minute penalty – his 42nd goal of the season - after Lee Wort had been felled in the box.

Micky Hubbard made it 2-0 just before half-time and Sholing's third arrived on 50 minutes when TJ Cuthbertson fired low through a forest of legs following a corner.

Set-piece ace Hubbard notched his second on the hour mark, sending a 20-yard free-kick in off the far post, and Wort added the finishing flourish with a classy chip over the 'keeper from just inside the box.

The emphatic scoreline was a fitting way to honour Diaper, who has been with the club since the 1999/2000 season, overseeing promotions from the Hampshire and Wessex leagues and presiding over that unforgettable FA Vase/Sydenhams Premier double in 2013/14.

Diaper, who has now amassed 927 games in charge, said: “You don’t manage a team for 18 years without having some great memories and, believe you me, there are too many to mention.”

Summing up the secret of Sholing’s continued success he said: “It’s the team ethic and camaraderie of the squad of players I have had the privilege to manage. The togetherness is always present on and off the pitch.

“Obviously winning the FA Vase in 2014 was the highlight of my career and I cannot describe in words how proud I was to lead the players out at Wembley.”

On a day of many smiles, the only sad moment was a minute's silence as a mark of respect to Sholing season ticket holder, Cyril Cantello, who recently passed away.

*ALRESFORD Town limbered up for Wednesday's (7.45pm) Sydenhams Premier showdown with Sholing by heaping more misery on rock-bottom Verwood.

The fifth-placed Magpies winged their way to a 5-1 victory at Potterne Park courtesy of Tom Sands, Chris Mason, Geoff Dunn (2) and Steve Hall. Max Fletcher's reply was the lone bright spot for Verwood.

Team Solent still had the goal power to overcome Cowes Sports 2-0 on the Isle of Wight despite allowing influential skipper and top scorer Jesse Waller-Lassen to dual-sign for Salisbury.

After a goalless first-half at Westwood Park, the Students netted twice in as many minutes straight after the break through Matt Sheedy and Tobi Adekunle.

Team Solent are away to Bashley tomorrow evening (Tuesday, 7.45pm).

Brockenhurst ran out 3-0 winners at Whitchurch United where Ryan Long added to Mitch Speechley-Price's double.