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Johnny Urquhart

Hearts and Raith Rovers footballer
Born: 3 February, 1925, in Kirkcaldy.
Died: 13 December, 2008, in Kirkcaldy, aged 83.

Johnny Urquhart, who served both Heart of Midlothian and Raith Rovers with distinction, was a lifelong football man. As a notable left-winger, he supplied the ammunition for the "Terrible Trio" of Alfie Conn, Willie Bauld and Jimmy Wardhaugh, the imperious goalscorers who fired the bullets when Hearts ended a long barren spell without a trophy by winning the League Cup in 1954. After spending 12 years at Tynecastle, he returned to Stark's Park and was closely linked with the Fife club for the rest of his life as a player, coach and administrator.

Davie McLean, the manager who laid the foundations in Gorgie for much of the success enjoyed by Tommy Walker in the Fifties, hailed from Buckhaven and built a comprehensive network of contacts and scouts in Fife. It was thanks to McLean's connections that Urquhart, who played juvenile football for Kirkcaldy Old Boys, was signed on 25 August, 1944.

As a lad, Urquhart had strong links with the Boys Brigade. He played trial matches for both Raith and East Fife before signing for Hearts. The Edinburgh club ran a reserve team in the North-eastern League during the Second World War and the teenager, who coveted regular football, opted to start his career in a maroon jersey.

Urquhart was only on the books for six months or so before he joined the Royal Marines. He served overseas, including a spell of nine months in Australia where he played as a guest for the Wallsend club near Sydney.

Tipping 5ft 8ins, Urquhart was a two-footed forward capable of filling all of the positions in attack. His versatility and eye for a goal established him as first reserve with Hearts when a number of players, including Bobby Flavell, vied for the outside left position.

When he did break into the first team – he was a regular between 1952 and 1956 – Urquhart completed 220 competitive league and cup games for Hearts, scoring 61 goals along the way. This average of one goal every four games was a decent return for a player whose primary function was to create openings for Conn, Bauld and Wardhaugh.

His most notable season in Gorgie came in 1954 when he was part of the Hearts team which won the League Cup. After nearly half a century without a trophy, Urquhart was involved through the campaign and was on the scoresheet at Easter Road when Airdrie were eliminated 4-1 in the semi-final. He was then part of the side – Duff; Parker and McKenzie; Mackay, Glidden and Cumming; Souness, Conn, Bauld, Wardhuagh and Urquhart – which defeated Motherwell in the final 4-2.

Urquhart also earned a representative honour in 1954, when he played and scored for the Scottish League against the Irish League in a 5-1 win at Windsor Park.

A joiner to trade who went on to establish a linoleum fitting business, Urquhart often trained at Stark's Park during his years as a part-timer with Hearts. When he left the club in the spring of 1956 – Ian Crawford was on the left wing when Hearts won the Scottish Cup – it was inevitable the forward would return to his first love. Having given such sterling service, the Tynecastle club accepted a modest fee of £300 for his services.

Urquhart, who had already spent a season on loan at Stark's Park in 1949, still had plenty to offer. According to John Litster, the author of the club's centenary history, the winger flourished for another five years at Raith, earning a place in the notable side of 1956/57 and playing first team football until 1962.

When Urquhart's playing career was over, he became a coach and in due course his service and knowledge of the game was rewarded with a seat on the board. Litster writes that his early years as a director were "characterised by unpublicised, selfless work in scouting and assessing players and nurturing the young reserves".

He became chairman and in 1994 was handed the post of club president. No-one in Raith's history was attached to the club for longer. According to Ally Gourlay, the chairman of the former players association, Urquhart was one of the most significant figures in the club's history.

He said: "It's clear John Urquhart was respected by all former Rovers players, from Ernie Till right up to those who met him before his illness, such as Stevie Tosh. When you look at the guys who have really served Raith Rovers there are two names, Andy Leigh and John Urquhart. John was just a colossal figurehead for the club, and a fantastic ambassador. That's shown by the fact that other clubs are still asking after him. 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."


Taken from the Scotsman

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