It promises to be an emotional day for many at Rockliffe on Tuesday when Avril Chilton puts away her mop and bucket for the last time.
A legendary figure around Boro’s training camp, she has worked more hours than she cares to admit to in keeping the place spic and span, leading a cleaning team with pride and always, always a laugh.
“I’ve met some fabulous people here,” says 72-year-old Avril.
“Kind people, generous, respectful, it has been a great place to work.”
Avril, who sprang to international prominence after being photographed on Twitter when cleaning with Aitor Karanka, then again on Snapchat when on the end of a playful, yet very respectful wind-up with Ben Gibson (“he’s a little bugger but I love him to bits”), says she has no favourites from her 13 years with the club.
“I’ve known some of the lads since they were eight years old, the place is like an extension to my family. I’ll miss it tremendously, but the time is right to go.”
Avril, a Darlington lady, says there are too many to name individually from her time with the club, “I’d be here for hours and take up too many pages,” but she has a special affection for club captain George Friend, Dael Fry (one of those she has known since he was considerably shorter than he is now), and Ben Gibson, together with the team she works with now behind the scenes, Lesley, Rita, Sue and Darren from the stadium and Tracey and Kris from Rockliffe.
“I remember Gareth (Southgate) when he was here, what a gentleman. He used to help me fill the soap dispensers sometimes and you know what, he would do it again now, whether he is England manager or not, that’s the type of man he is.
“There have been so many, lovely, amazing people. It doesn’t matter what role they play, they have all been so kind.”
There has never been a bad word spoken about Avril in the corridors of Rockliffe, such is the respect in which she is held, she’ll be a hard act to follow.
Sonia Crawford is the one charged with that responsibility. “I couldn’t have asked for anyone better, to be honest. She’s back at the club after seven years away and I’m happy to be leaving the role in such good hands.
“I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone, managers, players, staff, everyone, really. I shall miss this place and these people immensely.”
And you’ll be missed too. Have a long and very happy retirement.