Bradley Hodgson, Penrith AFC’s legendary and long-standing mascot, says he is stepping down - to give someone younger a chance.

Bradley has long been one of the most familiar and popular figures at the Northern League club, where he has led out the team for the last 17 years.

But the huge Penrith fan says that, at 24, it is time for someone else to have the honour after the 2021/22 season, which will be his last in the role.

“I’ve done it since I was seven,” Bradley told the News & Star. “I want someone younger to come in and do it now.”

Bradley’s long association with the mascot role is such that he remembers leading the team out at Penrith’s previous home of Southend Road.

He continued after the club moved to Frenchfield Park and is known as one of the club’s biggest supporters.

“I remember my first season as mascot,” he said.

“And I remember the 2007/8 season, when Barry Irving used to play for Penrith and we won the Northern League Division Two title that year.

“Then in 2009 we moved down here [to Frenchfields].

“There have been some ups and downs at the club along the way but I will always be a big Penrith fan.

“I hope someone else will want to be mascot.”

Bradley, who has Down’s Syndrome, has always been embraced by Penrith, where his family have long-standing involvement at the club.

Dad Stuart is a former Penrith player and both he and wife Kim have long been involved behind the scenes at the Northern League club.

“My family is important to me,” Bradley said.

“They have always been very supportive.”

Bradley says he has spoken about his decision to step down with Penrith chairman Brian ‘Billy’ Williams and manager Dave Hewson, and also plans to talk to the team.

He says the last game of the 2021/22 season will be his “testimonial” game.

Bradley’s latest outing as mascot was at Tuesday’s pre-season friendly against Carlisle United.

The huge football enthusiast has often interviewed players and managers after such games.

Back in 2015 Bradley, from Culgaith, also had the honour of playing for England Mencap team in Switzerland.

He said he is hopeful that his last campaign as mascot will prove to be a successful one on the pitch for his beloved Penrith.

“It’s a new season, we’ve got a new assistant manager [Mark Banks] and we will see how pre-season pans out,” he said. “As well as the league, we’ve got Guisborough in the FA Cup, which is a tough draw, and Ilkley Town in the FA Cup. There’s the Cumberland Cup and League Cup as well.”

Bradley is also an avid BBC Radio Cumbria listener.

Penrith take on Carlisle City in a friendly at Frenchfield Park today (kick-off 2pm).