TIM Wade admits he was "gobsmacked" after becoming only the fifth person to be appointed a life vice-president of the Bradford Union.

The long-serving official was given the honour after more than 50 years of service, in which he enjoyed two stints as team captain as well as featuring as a player and on the committee.

He was described as "a living legend" by new Bradford president Charlie Cox, who presented him with the award.

Wade said: "It was really unexpected. In 86 years of the union's existence, I'm only the fifth person to get one – that's how big an honour it is.

"I'm gobsmacked and never expected it. There are people who have done more for the union than I have."

The 73-year-old, who is still working as the Bradford Union's Scratch League secretary, joins five-time Walker Cup player Rodney Foster, former junior golf organiser Peter Delaney, ex-treasurer Paul Crosby and former secretary and president Mike Lynn on the list of Union vice-presidents.

Cox, who is a member at Bracken Ghyll, said: "There was no better way to start my presidency than to present Tim with this honour. Nobody has earned it more than him."

Wade, the son of former West Bowling professional Jim, can still remember his debut in the early 1960s as a 17-year-old for Bradford's representative side.

"It was at Hawksworth against a lad called Peter Greenhough from East Riding, who played at Brough," he said.

"He went on to become chairman of the R&A Championship committee at one time. He was a county player but I managed to beat him. I was rung up about 11.30 at night by secretary Bill Dufton as someone had dropped out."

Wade went on to enjoy a successful amateur career at district and inter-district level. He played in the first Yorkshire Inter-District Championship at Sandmoor in 1973 and was part of the West Bowling team who won five Yorkshire Team Championships.

As captain of the union over the last two-and-half decades – in two stints from 1990 to 2000 and from 2004 before retiring at the start of last year – he has become well-known to younger generations of golfers.

His reign as skipper brought Bradford three Yorkshire Inter-District League titles (1996, 2006 and 2010) and four Yorkshire Inter-District Six-Man Team Championships (1992, 1993, 1997 and 2007).

Wade, whose playing days drew to a close in his mid-40s – partly due to him suffering from osteoarthritis – said the chance to take on the captaincy came just at the right time.

"I didn't know what would happen after my playing days were finished and it coincided very nicely with taking over as captain," he said.

"That was an honour – it kept me involved and now I am still involved as league secretary. It keeps me active, keeps me young and keeps me in touch with everybody."

Wade is really enjoying his current role, which is fitting as he played in the first Bradford Union Scratch League when it was launched back in 1962.

"West Bradford member Alan Cowman, who became Yorkshire secretary, started the competition," he recalled.

"It was a trial year and back then we had three-man teams rather than four-man. It was pioneering as no-one else in Yorkshire had done it. Bradford were the first union to have scratch leagues."

Having taken "a sabbatical" last year, after handing over the reins to new captain Martin Gaffney, Wade hopes to lend his support at some Union team matches this season.

He is full of praise for his successor and believes he can ultimately bring silverware back to Bradford, who last won the Yorkshire Inter-District League in 2010.

Wade said: "Martin had a difficult baptism following myself but he has done very well. He has taken to it like a duck to water. I've been very impressed with him. He doesn't get ruffled and he is an asset to the Union.

"Success will come back (for Bradford). It's swings and roundabouts and peaks and troughs. We've been in a trough for a while but it will come back. There are young players coming through and they are going to do very well."