Ernie’s Hampden tribute

Former East Fife goalkeeper Ernie McGarr, pictured centre.
Former East Fife goalkeeper Ernie McGarr, pictured centre.

IT’S taken more than four decades – but one of East Fife’s most popular ex-goalkeepers has finally been acknowledged for service to his country.

Ernie McGarr was a special guest recently at Hampden, where he received a commemorative cap, over 40 years after he made two appearances for Scotland.

At an official presentation (pictured), Scottish FA president Campbell Ogilvie (left) and performance director Mark Wotte (right) formally recognised Ernie’s contribution to the national team.

While at Aberdeen – his first senior club – Ernie played for Scotland in a 1969 friendly in Dublin with the Republic of Ireland and a World Cup qualifier soon afterwards against Austria in Vienna.

He was also on the bench for Scotland on three other occasions.

However, until 1975, no caps were awarded to players who featured in World Cup, European Championship or friendly matches – only to those who played three or more games in the Home International series.

After much debate, it was decided in 2006 to award a commemorative cap to pre-1975 players who had not received one under the previous system.

Ernie (68), who played around 120 league games for East Fife, was delighted to have his day at the home of Scottish football.

He paid tribute to Aberdeen FC’s historian, Kevin Stirling, the former Aberdeen, Hibernian and Scotland striker Joe Harper, the SFA’s Sandra Buchanan and his old Pittodrie manager, the late Eddie Turnbull, for their help in getting him the recognition.

Ernie, of Leven, a greenkeeper at the town’s links golf course, recalled the pride he felt when first selected for his country.

It was pretty much the culmination of a whole football career to get an international appearance, he said, adding: “Any schoolboy would be glad of that.”

He also had fond recollections of “a great team spirit” during six seasons at Bayview in the 1970s.

A “fantastic day” for Ernie included a tour of Hampden, where he was hugely impressed with the football museum. (Picture courtesy of the SFA)