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Kirkcaldy mourns passing of Johnny Urquhart

Matthew Elder
THE MAN regarded by many as Raith Rovers' greatest ever servant has died.

John Urquhart, who served Raith as a player in the fifties, and thereafter as a director, chairman and president, passed away last Friday after a long illness, aged 83.

Tributes to Mr Urquhart have flooded into Stark's Park, not just from those associated with Raith Rovers, but from clubs and officials across the country, such was his popularity among the football fraternity.

Long-serving Raith director Mario Caira counted John as a close family, as well as football friend, for the last four decades and he paid tribute to a "great man".

He said: "He was a very nice man, and very loyal to the club.
"It was always a pleasure to be in his company and he never had a bad word to say about anybody.

"He always looked to create harmony within the club and his integrity was second to none. He was always very warm in his approach to opposition directors, and many still ask for him to this day.

"He was just a great man all round, and I'm very, very sad that he is not with us anymore."

Chairman of the club's former players association, Ally Gourlay, also led tributes on behalf of the organisation.

"It's clear that John Urquhart was respected by all ex-Rovers players, from Ernie Till right up to those who met him before his illness, such as Stevie Tosh," he said.

"When you look at guys who have really served Raith Rovers there are two names, Andy Leigh and John Urquhart. John was just a collosal figurehead for the club, and a fantastic ambassador.

"That's shown by the fact that other clubs are still asking after him the length and breadth of football.

"He reached out to everybody and made them feel part of Raith Rovers, whether they were a manager, player or a fan on the terraces."

Club historian John Litster, in his recently released club encyclopaedia, "Always Next Season - 125 years of Raith Rovers FC", wrote affectionately of John Urquhart's achievements.

"Few individuals in the club's history served for so long, and with such distinction, and indeed in so many capacities, as Johnny Urquhart," he wrote.

"Very few men could match his service in Raith Rovers' 125 year history, and his surpasses all others in its longevity; truly one of the club's 'Greats'."

Mr Urquhart's professional career began at Hearts and in 1954 he played in the team which won the League Cup, and won a Scottish League cap in the same season.

In April 1956 he was transferred to Raith, where he became a key member of what is arguably the club's greatest ever team in 1956-57.

When he hung up his boots, he was appointed to the board of directors, where he served, latterly as chairman, until 1994, when he accepted the position of club president.

THE funeral of John Urquhart will take place at Kirkcaldy Crematorium on Friday (tomorrow) at 2.15 p.m.
Raith Rovers will be represented at the service by players, management and directors, and all friends wishing to pay their respects are invited to attend.
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