TRIBUTES have been paid to former Wrexham midfielder Bobby Park.

Wrexham AFC confirmed Mr Park died on July 23 following a battle with cancer. He was 72.

A spokesman for the club said: "Bobby will never be forgotten for the part that he played in Wrexham’s midfield of the 1969/70 promotion winning season, as well as featuring in the memorable cup matches at both Old Trafford and Anfield against Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.

"Although he was born in Edinburgh, Bobby's family moved to Peterlee in County Durham when he was still a young child, and it was that same area that he and his family returned to after his playing days were over.

"Growing up in County Durham, Bobby impressed at schoolboy football, earning selection at 14 for East Durham Schoolboys in the English Schools Trophy, and appearing in the same side as Colin Bell, who later played for Manchester City and England.

"Around this time he signed schoolboy forms for Middlesbrough, but his football career stalled upon leaving school as the Ayresome Park club decided against offering him an apprenticeship, and he took up work at the Darlington wool firm, Paton & Baldwins, continuing to play for the works’ side in their local league.

"It was whilst playing for them that an employee of the company, who had connections at Villa Park, recommended him to Aston Villa, and he was subsequently invited for a two-week trial.

"At the end of the trial, Bobby left the North-East having made the big decision to follow his ambition of becoming a professional footballer by signing as an apprentice with Aston Villa.

"Bobby was soon to progress and make an impression when he earned his Football League debut in September 1964 against Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-0 home win. A few days later, he scored the only goal in a 1-0 League Cup victory over Luton Town.

"The season ended on a high note, scoring the winner in a 2-1 home victory over Manchester United. Although he was never regarded as a regular at Villa Park, he still made over 80 appearances for the ‘Villains’.

"Tommy Docherty's arrival as manager during 1968/69 saw the end of Bobby's career in the Midlands, as he was released in the summer, but following a recommendation from Jimmy Dugdale to his former Villa teammate John Neal, the Wrexham manager snapped Bobby up."

After joining Wrexham, Mr Park went straight into the then 'Robins' side for the opening match of the new season against Exeter City, a 3-0 home win on 9 August 1969, in a team that consisted of some Wrexham players such as Dave Gaskell, Steve Ingle, Alan Bermingham, Gareth Davies, Eddie May, Mickey Evans, Arfon Griffiths, Ray Smith, Albert Kinsey and Stuart Mason -a line-up that went on to celebrate promotion for only the second time in the club’s history the following May, as runners-up in Division Four.

During this period Mr Park was involved in the club's memorable cup matches against Manchester United at Old Trafford, and Liverpool at Anfield, whilst the following season saw him play in Wrexham's Welsh Cup Final defeat by Cardiff City, as he helped the North Wales club to consolidate their position in the Third Division.

After retiring from football, Mr Park began working in the credit business, firstly as a traveller, before gaining promotion to area manager of a national company and only leaving that role in 1993 to become general manager of a family credit company in Sunderland.

A spokesman for Wrexham AFC added: "Bobby had settled in the North-East at Peterlee and it was with his close family with him, that he passed away. Our condolences go out to Bobby’s wife and children."