TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Morton director and successful businessman from Greenock's east end who has died suddenly in Spain.

Andy Gemmell, who was 75, grew up only streets away from Cappielow and went on to serve his childhood club in a number of roles.

As a young man he followed his dream of playing football, ending up down south, and then went on to own pubs and a restaurant in his home town, as well as setting up a number of successful ventures further afield.

Andy served on the board alongside late chairman John Wilson at the time when Allan McGraw was manager.

His close-knit family, led by his wife of 52 years Adele and daughter Aileen, today spoke of a devoted husband, father and grandfather loved by all who met him both back home and where he had settled in Spain.

Aileen said: "Dad was so full of life and did so much good in his lifetime.

"One of the last things he did before he died was watch Morton win their play-off match to stay up.

"He would have loved to be there at Cappielow but was so happy just to watch it.

"We will miss him so much but we have been overwhelmed by the lovely messages from back home and memories of dad.

"Even here in Spain the local community have been incredible to us, as dad talked to everyone.

"We hope at some point we can have a memorial service in Greenock."

As a young man Andy's first love was football, signing for his childhood club and playing for Bradford City and Blackpool, where he was in the squad alongside Emlyn Hughes and Alan Ball, and for Kidderminster.

Back home, he had a successful time in the juniors and amateurs playing for Rankin Park, Ardrossan, Largs Thistle and Beith.

Aileen added: "He had so many cracking stories to tell about his time in football and would entertain us all."

Football fanatic Andy met Adele, from Gourock, at a folk night in the town's Bay Hotel.

Adele, who owned her own hairdressing salon, and Andy set up home together initially in Port Glasgow.

Shortly after they were married Adele lost both her parents in a short space of time and the young couple brought up her six brothers and sisters, the youngest aged seven.

At the same time their first daughter Susan, arrived, followed by Aileen and then son Scott.

Adele said: "We managed to get a house in Port Glasgow and we brought up all my brothers and sisters, who were all still at school at the time.

"The salon became a bit much for me and I gave that up, with a baby and the family as well."

The couple later moved to Kilmacolm as Andy started out in business, working at one point with steel entrepreneur and Rangers chairman David Murray.

He first started his own firms Engineering Metal Services, before setting up AG Alloys in Glasgow and travel firm AGA Travel.

Closer to home in Greenock Andy was best known for his busy pub The Trophy Room on Cathcart Street and the Dug Out disco underneath and also opened his own Italian restaurant, named after Ton.

His proudest achievements came with Morton, where he served for many years as a director along with other stalwarts, helping to reshape the club as it was promoted to the Premier Division in 1987.

Former manager Allan McGraw, a close friend and colleague, said: "I am so saddened by the sudden loss of Andy.

"He was such a lovely man, always smiling and happy.

"He was ahead of his time and brought so much to Morton in the way of modernisation and introduced hospitality on a match day.

"I am thinking of his family at this time."

After his time at Morton Andy helped other clubs who found themselves in financial difficulty, including Dumbarton FC, who posted a moving tribute to him on their club website.

He was also a founding director of the company which bought Livingston FC out of administration in 2009.

Andy and Adele, 71, later followed their daughters Susan, 51, and Aileen, 46, to Spain so they could be closer to grand daughter Mary.

Their son Scott, 42, joined them in Torreguadiaro last October so they could all be together.

Andy passed away peacefully at home on May 27.