John Urquhart to be inducted into Hall of Fame

John Urquhart (left), who played for Hearts between August 1944 and April 1956, when he was sold to Raith Rovers for an incredible  300. On the right is Hearts team-mate Johnny Hamilton.
John Urquhart (left), who played for Hearts between August 1944 and April 1956, when he was sold to Raith Rovers for an incredible 300. On the right is Hearts team-mate Johnny Hamilton.
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John Urquhart is one of the most respected figures in the history of Raith Rovers - as a player, coach and chairman.

Widely regarded as one of the true gentlemen of the Scottish game , he was held in the highest regard by all who met him for his service to the club, and to the Scottish game in general.

Born in Kirkcaldy in 1925, John was a prominent young player in Boys Brigade and in juvenile football circles. During the Second World War he was offered trials by both Raith Rovers and East Fife, but opted to join Hearts in 1944 because they had a reserve team which would increase his chances of playing regularly - at that time the Fife clubs didn’t have a second string.

It took a couple of years to establish himself in the number 11 jersey at Tynecastle, and later in 1949/50 after losing his place in the first team, he was brought on loan to Raith Rovers where he helped the club retain its top flight status after one season back among the big boys.

He returned to Tynecastle, and from 1951 was the first choice left winger in one of the most fearsome Hearts front lines ever, supplying the crosses to the terrible trio of Conn, Bauld and Wardhaugh. During this spell he won the League Cup and also won a Scottish League Cap.

With 79 goals in 248 games in maroon, Urquhart lost his place to the emerging phenomenon that was Ian Crawford, and in April 1956 Johnny was brought home to Kirkcaldy.

Any thoughts or winding down an illustrious career were soon dispelled.

He was a key figure in the Raith side which enjoyed its best ever post war League finish - fourth - scoring in the 5 1 thrashing of Rangers, and helped the club to a Scottish Cup semi-final. He enjoyed a further five years being first choice outside left before becoming reserve team coach in 1962. He finally hung up his boots in 1964.

As well as coaching and scouting, he was appointed to the board of directors in 1964 and served with distinction for 30 years, including a spell as chairman during time Rovers narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League. He was still a director at the time when promotion was achieved in 1993, and was also there when the League Cup was won in 1994, the same year he accepted the position of club president.

In an era where football officialdom was characterised by businessmen with little or no football background, Urquhart was a rare breed in that he worked diligently away from the public gaze, but also his vast career and playing experience was respected throughout the SFA. The respect was such that he was welcomed in every boardroom of every club and was always addressed as Mr. Urquhart.

There can be few men who have contributed to the history of Raith Rovers over such a lengthy period and his induction into the Raith Hall of Fame is a fitting tribute to a man who never spoke ill of anyone, was always on hand to chat to players, managers and supporters – all were equal in his eyes – and a man who’s calming influence is still sorely missed at Stark’s Park.