London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2008-09--> All for 20081220
<-Page <-Team Sat 20 Dec 2008 Hearts 0 Dundee United 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Matt Vallance auth-> William Collum
4 of 021 ----- L SPL H

John Urquhart

Footballer and administrator; Born February 3, 1925; Died December 16, 2008.

JOHNNY Urquhart, who has died aged 83, was one of the greatest figures in the history of Raith Rovers FC, after stellar deeds in the maroon of Hearts.

Born in Kirkcaldy, he was an outstanding schoolboy player while at Kirkcaldy High School, who also played for his local Boys' Brigade team. After leaving school he played for Kirkcaldy Old Boys in the local juvenile league.

This was during the war years and while he had trials with both Rovers and East Fife, it was another Fifer, Hearts boss Dave McLean, who snapped up the young winger and took him to Tynecastle. Urquhart's decision to cross the Forth to play was a pragmatic one as Hearts had a reserve team, while neither Rovers nor the Fifers then ran such back-up sides, so he felt he would enjoy more regular games.

He made a scoring debut in maroon in a wartime league game against Dumbarton on October 14, 1944, but it took him a couple of years to establish himself in the number 11 shirt. He then lost his place for a spell, during which time he went out on-loan to Raith Rovers, whom he helped preserve Division A status in season 1949-50.

Returning to Hearts, he was a first pick in the number 11 jersey from 1951 until he was displaced by the phenomenal talent that was Ian Crawford during the season of 1955-56.

During these four or five seasons at the start of the fifties, when Tommy Walker, McLean's successor as manager, built what is now seen as Hearts' finest side, Urquhart was a key component in a great line-up. With Jimmy Wardhaugh playing on his inside and John Cumming, who died last week, behind him, Urquhart flourished down the left. Another member of that side was Alfie Conn Sr, who, like Urquhart, had also made a scoring debut against Dumbarton in 1944 and who was later to be reunited with him at Raith Rovers.

Urquhart was in the team on October 23, 1954, when Hearts, thanks to a Willie Bauld hat-trick and a goal from Wardhaugh, thumped Motherwell 4-2 at Hampden to win the League Cup, the club's first major trophy since 1906.

That season was perhaps the high point of Urquhart's Tynecastle career, since he also made a scoring appearance for the Scottish League XI in a 5-1 Windsor Park win against the Irish League, which was to be his only representative honour.

By the time Hearts ended their 50-year Scottish Cup drought by beating Celtic 3-1 in 1956, Crawford was the established outside left. Urquhart had played his final game in maroon earlier that month in a 2-0 win over Partick Thistle and at the end of that season, £300 changing hands, he returned to Kirkcaldy to play out his career at Stark's Park.

In his Tynecastle days he played in 248 games, scoring 79 goals, and along the way set a benchmark for left-wing successors such as Crawford and Johnny Hamilton.

There was an Indian winter in season 1956/57 when Raith finished fourth in the league and took eventual winners Falkirk to a Tynecastle semi-final replay before bowing out of the Scottish Cup.

The Rovers team of that season, with its iconic half-back line of Andy Young, Willie McNaught and Andy Leigh, is still revered by older Rovers' fans as arguably the club's best-ever XI. He continued to play for Raith until 1964, although latterly he was an infrequent performer, acting more as coach to the reserve team. One of the young Fifers whose development was speeded by playing behind him in the first team was the young Jim Baxter.

On hanging up his boots, Urquhart was appointed to the club board, where he served mainly as an unsung scouter for fresh talent and as a great source of encouragement for young players.

He rose to become club chairman and was still on the board in 1994, when Rovers memorably beat Celtic to win the League Cup. He then stood down to become president of the club, continuing to be a dedicated supporter through the sometimes turbulent years which followed, until his final years were blighted by illness.

Football directors tend to fall into two categories: there are the flash characters, often perceived as chancers both in business and in football; and there are the dedicated football men whose best work is often done away from the glare of publicity. Urquhart, one of the few top-flight professionals to take his football knowledge - hard won at the coal face of the game - into its corridors of power, was definitely in the latter category.

Away from football he ran his own linoleum and carpet fitting and flooring firm in Kirkcaldy, with his son Brian carrying on from his father to run the family business.

He is survived by his widow, Ena, and two other sons, John and Alan.

# BY Matt Vallance

Taken from the Herald

<-Page <-Team Sat 20 Dec 2008 Hearts 0 Dundee United 0 Team-> Page->
| Home | Contact Us | Credits | © |