TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular former footballer.

Charlie Kelsall from Buckley died on April 20, five days after his 98th birthday.

The former Wrexham player was described by Paul Davies, secretary of the Buckley Society, as "a real gentleman".

Mr Davies said: "He was very well liked in the Buckley community and he was very humble about his football career.

"He had a wealth of knowledge about local history, particularly the brick making industry. We will all miss him."

Mr Kelsall's son Peter said his father and mother Joan, who died in 2005, loved ballroom dancing and travelling.

He said they particularly enjoyed visiting him, his wife Barbara and their children Angie and Ian in the United States, as well as seeing national parks such as Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion.

Mr Kelsall took up playing football at St Matthews School in Buckley and Hawarden County School, where he was selected at all age levels.

He had football in his genes, as his brother Joe won a Welsh Amateur international cap.

Upon leaving school he obtained work at a Buckley Brickworks and continued playing football for a local side, Mynydd Isa Wanderers, with whom he won a Flintshire League Championship medal, and a runners-up medal in the Flintshire League's Challenge Cup in 1938.

Mr Kelsall played for Buckley Town during the following season, where a Wrexham scout spotted him.

After a visit to his Buckley home by the Wrexham director George Turner in the close season of 1939, Charlie signed for the Racecourse club on a part-time basis.

He was playing in Wrexham's Cheshire League side when the Second World War began, but he continued to combine semi-professional football with work at the brickworks, because of his age.

Mr Kelsall made his first team debut for Wrexham in a Football Regional League West Division match against Chester in March 1940 and he made two further appearances before the end of the season.

He became a regular in the Wrexham team in the following season, playing regular matches against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Everton, Stoke City, etc, before being called up to the Army at the end of the 1940-41 campaign.

He then joined the Second Survey Regiment in May 1941, with whom he was to serve for the majority of his time in Burma and India.

In five years in the Army, he would only return home the once and that was for a fleeting visit.

After the Second World War was over, Mr Kelsall re-signed for Wrexham on a part-time basis, and returned to work at the Metallic brickworks, where he became manager.

A full-back, playing at either left or right back, he made his Football League debut in a 1-0 defeat at Stockport in April 1947, as he went on to give loyal service to Wrexham, spending a further six seasons at the Racecourse.

Although he struggled to gain a regular first team place due to the form of the likes of Cyril Jones, Eddie Tunney, Ron Jackson and Ronnie Wynn, during that period.

He played mainly in the Cheshire League side but could always be relied upon to cover at full-back in the first team when required.

Mr Kelsall finally left the Racecourse in May 1952, when he joined Welsh League side Holywell Town, who were managed by former Wrexham player Gordon Gunson.

In his first season with them, he featured in their Welsh League Division One Championship winning side and he also collected a Welsh League Alves Cup runners'-up medal.

He spent one more year with Holywell before joining his local side, Buckley Rovers, turning out for them for a season before knee trouble forced his retirement.

Charlie continued working at the brickworks in Buckley, later becoming a manager at the Lane End Brickworks, before ending his working life at British Aerospace at Broughton.

He had lived in retirement in his native Buckley, then later at a residential home in Hawarden.

A spokesman for Wrexham AFC said: "Everyone at Wrexham Football Club would like to send their deepest sympathy to Charlie’s only son Peter, who now resides in Denver, Colorado."