TRIBUTES have been paid to a record-breaking footballer considered by many to be an historic amateur club's greatest ever.

Jimmy McMillan was the only player to have won four FA Amateur Cup winner’s medals, all with County Durham side Crook Town FC.

The cup wins in 1954, 1959, 1962 and 1964 were just some of the highlights of a long and proud playing career with Crook, where his passing on Wednesday has led to reminiscences and tributes.

Club historian Michael Manuel, a fan since 1949, said: “Those people that played local football were put on a pedestal like Ronaldo and such are today.

“People couldn’t afford to travel to Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough so they followed Northern League which was one of the most important in the country.

“In my opinion, and many others’, Jimmy McMillan was the greatest player to ever pull a Crook Town shirt on- a fantastic player and a gentleman on and off the field.

“There were some outstanding personalities in local football then but very few like Jimmy McMillan.”

Mr McMillan made 505 appearances for Crook Town and scored 94 goals.

He made his debut on September 17, 1951 when Sunderland played at Crook to mark the reopening of its Millfield ground after some alterations and in the same year featured in the first televised Saturday afternoon match.

This was a time when amateur football was so popular thousands of people passionately followed their hometown amateur side, worshipping favourite players and in 1951 the gates of the Millfied Stadium were broken down by fans trying to get into a game.

After a short spell away from football to concentrate on studying to become a council planner, he returned to the club in 1953/54.

It was that season he picked up his first FA Amateur Cup medal in the momentous final against local rivals Bishop Auckland, which after two replays had the highest aggregate crowd of English football history- 200,000.

On April 5, 1959 Mr McMillan made his only international appearance for England against France.

In 1968 he retired from football but had one last outing for Crook when he was pulled from the terraces on November 13, 1968, and persuaded to pull on boots two sizes too big to have a run out against Manchester City who brought their championship winning side to Crook to mark the club’s new floodlights going on for the first time.

Keith Belton, chairman of Durham Amateur Football Trust, said: “He was a scholar and a gentleman, a good player with a unique record and an unassuming chap who could tell a tale and will be a miss.”

Mr McMillan, of Kibblesworth, was also a keen and talented cricketer. He played for his local team Kibblesworth Cricket Club and served as club secretary and coached young players.

He is survived by wife Anne, children Wendy, Duncan and Allison and granddaughter Hannah.