Memories of an all-time great Fife ‘keeper

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THE funeral has taken of East Fife’s legendary cup-winning goalkeeper, Johnny Niven, who passed away just six weeks short of his 90th birthday.

Born in Coatbridge in 1921, Johnny was spotted by then chairman John McArthur while playing for Renfrew Juniors in the early 1940s.

Mr McArthur, who had actually been looking for a centre forward that day, wasted no time in bringing Johnny to Methil and he appeared as a trialist against Raith Rovers in a North East League match on February 21, 1942.

Following the war, Johnny maintained his loyalty to the Fifers and missed just two games during the 1946-47 season.

Then came a real moment of glory for the ‘keeper and the Fife club as they brought a piece of major domestic silverware to Bayview.

Johnny was an ever-present in the 1947-48 side which took the Division B title and was also the first name on the team sheet for the club’s League Cup ties that season.

The cup run culminated in the side winning the trophy for the first time.

He later said of the East Fife cup winning side: “Winning trophies with East Fife was terrific that season, especially winning the League Cup at Hampden, although that was a team that played with confidence and almost expected to win.

“There was a great camaraderie, and the players mixed very well.

“I was in a team of good players who wanted to play good football.”

He went on to cement his place as the club’s ‘keeper, making over 160 appearances for the side, including Scottish Cup quarter and semi-final appearances.

After leaving Methil for Kilmarnock, Johnny eventually retired from the game in 1953 and pursued a career as a mechanical engineer.

More recently, Johnny was among the previous Fife greats invited to Bayview as a guest of honour to unfurl the Division Three flag in 2008.