Former Carlisle United forward John Rudge has been recognised by the EFL for his decades of devoted service to the game.

The 76-year-old was last night presented with the Contribution to League Football Award.

It marked the ex-Blues man's six decades in the game.

Speaking to Sky Sports after his recognition at the annual EFL Awads, Rudge said: "It has taken me by surprise. I’m very lucky to have been involved in football for such a long time.”

Wolverhampton-born Rudge's playing career began at Huddersfield but it was a spell at Brunton Park, from 1966-9, which first saw the striker establish himself in first-team football.

He made 53 appearances for the Cumbrians, scoring 16 goals.

His spell included a hat-trick in a 6-1 thrashing of Bolton in a 1966/7 season when Alan Ashman's United came third in the old Second Division - their highest-ever finish at that point.

He featured in a side that included former Blues greats such as Allan Ross, Peter McConnell, Tommy Murray, Chris Balderstone, Hugh McIlmoyle and Terry Caldwell.

Rudge was in the united side that enjoyed a famous FA Cup win at Newcastle in January 1968.

He went on to play for Torquay, Bristol Rovers and Bournemouth, before going on to have a long and successful 16-year stint as manager of Port Vale, from 1983-1999.

He was pivotal to some of the Valiants' best campaigns, including three promotions, a Football League Trophy win and an Anglo-Italian Cup final appearance.

After a later spell as director of football at Stoke, Rudge returned to Vale Park as an advisor and he is now club president at the Valiants.