A WELL loved football man had his dedication to the sport recognised when he was awarded a long service medal by the Football Association.

Gordon Duck played as a professional for his hometown club Middlesbrough in the late 1940s before doing his two-year stint of National Service with the Green Howards.

On Friday night hundreds of people turned out to see the 81-year-old awarded a medal and badge of honour from Mike Birt, the Honorary Treasurer of the North Riding Football Association.

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Mr Duck, who was the guest of honour at the Acklam Steelworks Club, was delighted to pick up the award.

Ron Gordon, who played under Mr Duck's management in the local football leagues and recommended him for the honour, said he was a well respected man around the area and no-one would have a bad word to say about him.

"You would not be able to find a nicer man," he said. "He was a gentleman on and off the pitch who knew the game inside out. During his time as a professional at Middlesbrough and then later at Torquay he was praised as a great player by the likes of Boro legends Brian Clough and Wilf Mannion."

Born in 1933, as a teenager he was on the books of Middlesbrough for two years before being called up for National Service, where his footballing prowess came to the forefront when he scored five goals in the Northern Command Cup final.

After completing his two years' of service in 1953, he returned home but was released by Middlesbrough before signing for Torquay.

With his wife pregnant with their first child, Mr Duck decided to give up on his professional football career and return home in 1954 where he continued to play amateur football for teams including Shildon.

However, it was his contribution to grassroots football that he received his long-service award.

Mr Gordon said Mr Duck created an over 35s league in the Middlesbrough area in 1984 as well as managing and playing for teams in a number of local leagues including Acklam Steelworks where his dedication was rewarded.

He said: "This award is nothing more than he deserves - he has been a true champion of amateur football for decades."