COULD this be the moment you’ve all been waiting for? Well, here goes.

This, dear reader, is the final TKO column (cue rejoicing, if not on a national scale, then surely on a city and North Yorkshire-wide scale).

Three months away from celebrating what would have been 40 years as a reporter - 35 of which have been in sport and the last 25 years in two spells at Walmgate - I am leaving The Press.

And while that hurts more than a Peter Lorimer free-kick into the nether regions, I am at least afforded the opportunity for a valedictory column.

Of all the sports I have covered in those four decades and they span archery through to yachting (I never managed one beginning with a Z, though the word zany would apply to several), my core sports have been football, boxing and golf.

So in the customary style of exiting columnists, there are a raft of competitors I would like to thank and remind readers of their exploits.

Heartfelt apologies now to anyone I have overlooked or forgotten, but consideration has to be made for the steady disappearance of “the little grey cells”.

Football at The Press has naturally been dominated by York City. And for me they provided two cup shocks, which, as a dyed-in-the-Mersey Liverpool fan, could never be bettered.

In 1995, there was the tumultuous toppling of Premier titans Manchester United, initiated by a quite bewildering 3-0 win at Old Trafford. When that third goal hit the United rigging I was guilty for the one and only time of breaching journalistic professionalism and impartiality by bellowing a raucous “yirrrrssssssss”.

And, as if that wasn’t startling enough, the Minstermen followed that up the very next season by beating Everton in the same League Cup competition. Mancs and Blues put to the sword by York City. For a Red, it was sensational.

Of countless hundreds of people associated with City, then I’d like to thank the managerial axis of Alan Little and Paul Stancliffe, the club’s best duo since the Denis Smith-Viv Busby pairing.

Player-wise none were more consistent and eye-catching than Andy McMillan, Wayne Hall, Jon McCarthy, Paul Barnes, Dean Kiely, John Sharples, Tony Barrass, Gary Bull, Paul Stephenson, Scott Jordan, Steve Bushell, Jonathan Greening and Richard Cresswell, the latter developing from raw strike-force leader to England Under-21 international and on to top-flight forward and now the club’s first-team coach.

But, for me, the standout performer in my City reporting days was midfielder Nigel Pepper.

When people refer to a United team being weaker for the first leg at Old Trafford, they forget that Pepper was the lone senior in a midfield of three rookies - Jordan, Darren Williams and Graeme Murty.

Pepper was also too often dismissed for being merely an enforcer, a scrapper. Yet he was one of the most skilful of all his creative peers. A true warrior and wily too.

That description could also be applied to York’s king of the boxing ring, Henry Wharton.

As fearsome as he was inside the ropes, Wharton was another person outside. Never brash, never indulging in the trash war that insinuates the hype before a big fight, and never dismissive of those who he was to encounter in the ring.

Wharton was always up for any mission, refused to duck opponents and regained his status as world number one ranked super-middleweight challenger the hard way.

It is well documented that his only three defeats were in a hat-trick of assaults on world titles, but Wharton remained an outright winner in his bid for the ultimate glory and the dignified way he handled himself.

And he remains a winner now to a new generation of talented boxers, whom he coaches at his Acomb-based Henry’s Gym.

Another boxing personality I recall with warmth is Lewis Gell, the driving force behind the Jack Raine Foundation, where York Boxing Club is housed. Gell has one of the most difficult jobs in the city, yet he accomplishes it with a gentle grace and good humour.

Of my triumvirate of favourite sports, I came to golf late but just in time to be at the start of the professional career of Simon Dyson.

Since the year 2000, the York-born greens giant has not only amassed six championship crowns on the European Tour but reached the level of number 28 ranked player in the world. Given the amount of professional golfers there are on the planet, that remains a magnificent achievement.

Dyson is, like the aforementioned players and performers, ultra- competitive. Yet for all the titles, and no little wealth, he has remained grounded both in modesty and the way he sports himself. And he has always had the support of a sports-mad family, who have backed him all the way.

To all the above, thanks for some breath-taking memories.

And, finally, a huge slice of gratitude to all colleagues at Walmgate, who strive under increasing pressure to bring the news through, especially those on the current sports-desk and those former sports-writers, sub-editors and editors.

Other than playing for Liverpool, there has been no more rewarding job for me. See yers.