Walter McCrae R.I.P

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Walter McCrae R.I.P

Post by Scottish » Sun Sep 24, 2006 4:57 pm

Walter McCrae died on Friday. He was Kilmarnock's trainer from 1956-1968, manager from 1968-1973 and club secretary from 1980-1991.

Walter's skills as a coach/trainer were recognised by the SFA when he became trainer to the Scotland team for several years. When he became a manager it was his successor at Killie - Hugh Allan - who also took over the role for Scotland.

Although he joined Killie before Willie Waddell became manager, it was as Waddell's 'assistant' that he enjoyed his greatest success. As a trainer Walter was involved not just with the Championship-winning team of 1965 but with two Scottish Cup Final and two League Cup Final teams.

He took over as manager from Malky MacDonald near the end of the 1967-68 season and enjoyed initial success. Killie finished 4th in 1968-69 - a position they didn't reach again for 29 years. He took the club into Europe twice, reaching the last sixteen of the Fairs Cup in 1969-70 and also led the side to two Scottish Cup semi-finals, in 1970 and 1972.

Unfortunately, his time as boss coincided with a general downturn in attendances and the club was forced to go part-time, resulting in relegation at the end of the 1972-73 season. He was sacked as manager early in the following season.

Walter returned to Rugby Park in an administrative capacity in 1980 and produced ambitious plans to finance a return to full-time football but these didn't receive sufficient backing from the board - and, it must be said, the supporters.

During this last spell at Rugby Park, Walter - as the public 'face' of the club - was inevitably associated with the stagnation Killie had sunk into by this time. As a consequence he often found himself under attack from large sections of the support even though he was only carrying out his duties. He remained in office when Bobby Fleeting took over as chairman in 1989 and retired two years later.

In retirement he remained a regular attender at Rugby Park and lived not far from the ground.

On a personal level my first dealing with him was when he had just taken over as manager. Myself and two friends turned up at Rugby Park and asked to see him. To our surprise Walter took us into his office and asked what he wanted. We told him we wanted to be ballboys.

He said we were a bit old (we were all eleven or twelve) but gave us a tour of Rugby Park, lemondade and biscuits and sent us home with a collection of match programmes and pennants. I don't think many managers then - or now - would have given of their time so freely to a few schoolchildren.

That made a big impression on three small boys and one that never left me. Years later, when I was writing my first Killie book, Walter couldn't have been more helpful, opening up every nook and cranny in Rugby Park, including areas which had lain dormant for many years and ferrying material to my parents home for me to consult.

I, for one, will miss him.

Jimmy Superscot
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Post by Jimmy Superscot » Fri Sep 29, 2006 6:38 pm

Gather from the killiefc.com site that he got a great send off with an excellent turn out from Killie names old and not so old.

Always felt that he wasn't really cut out to be a manager (think his 1st good season was largely down to Waddell/MacDonald's team), but he was a brilliant trainer as seen by successive Scotland managers appointing him as the national team's trainer.

Loyal servant to Killie and always had my respect for that even when he was defending the indefensible.

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