Cumbrian defender Steven Swinglehurst has been hailed a legend as he leaves Annan Athletic after 12 years at the club.

The Carlisle-born player is departing Galabank after his long-serving and hugely respected stint with Annan.

It brings to an end a spell which began back in 2012 after former Carlisle United academy product Swinglehurst left Brunton Park.

He has played an influential part in Annan's journey under managers Harry Cairney, Jim Chapman and Peter Murphy.

In that time Swinglehurst has been involved in play-off campaigns as well as big league and cup games against the likes of Rangers and Aberdeen.

He had a testimonial in 2022 while last year helped the Galabankies to a first ever promotion to Scottish League One, before they secured survival in 2023/24.

Swinglehurst, who grew up in Upperby, has paid a heartfelt thanks to Annan for his 12 years with the club.

"Cut me open I’d bleed black and gold," he wrote on social media.

News and Star: Swinglehurst, right, in action for Annan against RangersSwinglehurst, right, in action for Annan against Rangers (Image: PA)

"From the bottom of my heart, Thank You, to the greatest club I could ever have wished to be part of.

"I wish you all the best for the coming season. Thank you for the memories, and thanks for having me.”

Swinglehurst's former team-mate Peter Watson paid tribute to the defender on Annan's website.

He said: "When you mention Annan Athletic in recent years you cannot help but think of Steven Swinglehurst.

"He has been pivotal in the success and progression from sheer heart, passion, and being a dedicated practitioner of the art of defending.

"He would put his head where most wouldn't put their feet.

"It will be strange when we come back and Steve’s not here. We had some brilliant times on the park and we knew each other inside out.

"A true Annan Athletic FC legend by every definition. Cheers for the memories Swings!”

Annan added: "Everyone at Galabank would like to wish Steven and his family all the very best for the future and thank you for everything!"

Swinglehurst came through the youth ranks at Brunton Park and earned a professional contract.

He went on loan to Annan in January 2012 and then, after being released by the Blues, made the move permanent.

He has made nearly 350 appearances, among the highlights being a 2-1 win over Rangers at Ibrox in 2013.

The defender has for several years run his own plumbing business. Annan, meanwhile, are preparing for the 2024/25 season under new manager Wullie Gibson.

The club have announced that striker Tommy Goss has signed a new two-year deal while defender Scott Hooper has also extended his Annan stay for next season.