OLDHAM RLFC owner and chairman Christopher Hamilton has paid tribute to Bernard Halford, whose death was announced yesterday.

Though Mr Halford was most closely associated with Manchester City, and his nickname was 'Mr Manchester City', those who knew him on the rugby league scene will remember him as the administrator and figurehead of the Past Players' Association.

Mr Halford, who was 77, spent most of his career in football administration, initially as secretary of Oldham Athletic and then, for more than 40 years, as club secretary of Manchester City, but he was also a keen rugby league enthusiast, particularly in his youth when he played for the Oldham A team at Watersheddings.

And, after his passing from a short illness, the Roughyeds chairman paid his own tribute, saying: "I knew Bernard for a number of years and particularly since he became a driving force behind our Past Players' Association.

"During that time I got to know him very well and he became a personal friend, as did his wife Karen. We shared several great afternoons and evenings together at football games and occasions and also on other nights out.

"Bernard was one of my closest friends and was somebody in whom I could always confide and trust.

"His involvement in football, and particularly Manchester City, was known worldwide but his love for rugby league was just as strong. He had done everything at City and on the back of that he knew how hard it was to keep ORLFC afloat. It was perhaps that affinity that brought us close.

"His loss to such a cruel disease is so undeserved for a man who was a perfect gentleman to the very end.

"He was always thinking of others before himself and he will be so sadly missed by many, including myself."