Tributes have poured in for a former football manager and player who has died following a long-term illness.

Ex-manager of Dalton United Football Club and Vickerstown Football Club, Mark Craig, died following a 12-month battle with an illness.

Mr Craig leaves behind his wife Sue and their four daughters, Sophie, Kathryn, Charlotte and Mia.

Dalton United chairman Graham Bickerstaff was managed by Mr Craig in the early 2000’s during his time as a Dalton player.

He said: “He was such a good man and got the best out of the players. He was so well liked by everyone and was genuinely a very funny guy.

“He knew which players needed an arm round them or a quick chat.

“Even after he left the club and worked at Vickerstown, he continued to watch Dalton games regularly.

“I’ve had a lot of people around Dalton in touch. All the comments have been overwhelmingly positive.

“He was a dedicated family man who was struck with an illness and coped as long as he could.”

Mr Craig went on to work at Vickerstown Football Club in 2005, where he managed the Walney team for more than three years.

Current Vickerstown manager and one of Mr Craig’s long-term friends, Dave Round, expressed his deep sadness to the loss.

He said: “Mark’s been a long-term friend for over 30 years.

“He’s a great all-round person and good family man, he was the life and soul of the football club.

“Everyone is deeply gutted by his death, he has such a large group of friends.

“We were all hopeful they would fine a cure for him.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him, he’s so well respected and liked.”

Dalton United club secretary Peter Thomas said Mr Craig will be “sadly missed”.

He said: “I’ve known Mark for over 30 years and he truly was the life and soul of the party.

“He was an excellent football player and will be sadly missed.

“It’s just such a shock, if you were ever down, he would always be there for you.”

As well as managing Vickerstown and Dalton United, Mark also formerly managed Barrow Celtic FC.

According to his close friends, he played a major role in Barrow’s sporting community.

A charity football match organised by the committee and players of Vickerstown was held for Mr Craig in May last year.

Vickerstown’s 2007 Lancashire Cup winners reunited to face Barrow All Stars in a charity match to raise money for Mark.