THE TERM club legend is a one used too easily in football these days.

However at Wallington Football Club the phrase could not be more appropriate for a larger than life character who had a lasting impact on everyone he came across, both on and off the pitch.

Tributes have poured in after the death of former player Mark Bruce on June 30.

Mark represented the Greens throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and his mastery in finishing helped the club clinch the Northern Alliance Division Two title and promotion in 2001.

An incredibly talented footballer 'Brucey' has been said to have made the game look simple with his ability to produce magic from nowhere a joy to behold.

Alex Slack, Wallington FC Chairman said: "I used to regularly watch Wallington as a teenager in the late 90's, they and had a great side, but Brucey was without doubt the star of the show. He had a George Best like quality and with him in the side anything was possible."

Current Wallington manager Trevor Baston remembers joining the team as a 16 year old and encountering Brucey’s personality and talent for the first time.

“He was one of the main characters in the dressing room when I joined. A scorer of great goals and teller of many funny anecdotes in the pub afterwards."

During half time intervals Brucey would often swerve the much favoured oranges and sports drinks and head straight for his baccy pouch for a well deserved rolly.

"Mark was more than just football," said Dan Herron, manager of Rothbury FC where Mark also played.

"He played into his 40s and would still sit young defenders down.

"He had trials all over the North-East, but he loved the social side to football with Rothbury and Wallington and he couldn't let that go."

Friends have recalled Mark as having a "huge heart with a natural charm" and an incredible sense of humour that could raise a smile from even the sternest of referees. One referee said of Mark: “One of the regions greatest players in his day. So laid back on the pitch he was almost horizontal at times."

Former Wallington manager and teammate David Featherstone said: "He was a top player on the field and a proper character off it."

Mark also attended the Greens committee meetings along with his wife Steph and helped with building work at Oakford Park.