Former Grantham Town FC Chairman and the man who brought Martin O’Neill to the club, died on Friday.
Mr Balfe, was once a partner with insurance brokers Balfe and Plaice, later setting up on his own.
In his younger days, he was a keen local footballer.
Former Chairman and current President of Town, Roger Booth, led the tributes along with Club Secretary Pat Nixon.
He said: “I was sorry to hear the sad news that former chairman Tony Balfe has passed away, Tony was a very good friend of mine for around 60 years, one of the most honest and dependable people I knew. Tony always conducted himself in a right and proper manner, but those who knew him well remember his very dry sense of humour.
Mr Booth also added, “Tony came from a very passionate footballing family and as a young man he was a very good amateur player. His love of football was how he came to chairman at Grantham. As usual, things were in turmoil at the then London Road and a crisis meeting had been called at the Gregory Arms at Harlaxton.
“Tony lived in the village on his way home and called in to see what was going on, and left the meeting as chairman! As part of that role he was responsible for giving a certain Martin O’Neill his first manager’s job.”
“My deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Carol and family and he will be sadly missed by many people.”
Club secretary Pat Nixon added his memories on Tony .
“I have just heard the incredibly sad news of the death of Tony Balfe. Tony was a good friend of the club. In fact, back in the 80s he came in and under his leadership the club was saved from almost certain closure.”
“He took the bold step of bringing in Martin O’Neill as manager a move which galvanised interest around the town in the club. I remember very well my first real contact with Tony. It was a Friday afternoon when the phone rang in the drawing office at Kontak where I was working.
“It was Tony and he asked me if I was interested in becoming secretary at the club. That was over 32 years ago.”
“Tony was a gentleman and I really enjoyed working at the club with him and although times were tough, we had a great time. It was during his time as Chairman following a difficult meeting and Tony was quite despondent, I said come on chaps keep smiling and those two words have stuck and every time I saw Tony he would always say keep smiling.
“When Tony stood down as Chairman and left the club we remained good friends and would always chat about the old days at the club whenever we bumped into one another and I would often remind him that he was responsible for me being at the club.”
There are several people who over the years have saved our club and Tony was one of them. He will be greatly missed, and my thoughts are with his wife Carol and the rest of his family.”