THE death of loved football legend Willie Fernie has drawn memories of the man from Kinglassie, all the way from Norwich.
Willie Fernie sadly passed away recently on his 83rd birthday in Glasgow. He played for Celtic and Scotland in the sixties and became a legend in football.
Andrew Farmer, an historian now based in England, contacted the Gazette to share his memories of the man.
Mr Farmer said: “I knew Willie personally, as we village lads all did back then. I idolised his immaculate ball skills, his unflappable temperament, and most of all, his innate humility.
“After a hard Saturday game with Celtic on a Saturday, back home on a Sunday, he’d shed his jacket, tuck in his trousers, and join in a game on the local park. Of course, nobody could take the ball off him!”
Mr Farmer wrote a book in 1997 called ‘Lamping the Flame’ which was about Kinglassie’s coal-mining roots.
The book also featured a poem inspired by his boyhood sporting heroes - including Willie Fernie - and included a poem about the player who was born in the former mining village on 22 November 1928.
Mr Farmer said: “I admired him for that generosity of spirit and time for his roots.”
A tribute in the book taken from ‘An Alphabet of the Celtics’ by Macbride, O’Connor and Sheridan reads: “Willie Fernie is one of the most elegant ball-players to have graced the hoops and an all-time Celtic great.”
Mr Farmer also notes: “Willie Fernie - together with other local peers like Jimmy Bonthrone (East Fife), Bill Brewster (Chelsea/Southend, Finlay Christie (St Johnstone) and Jim Michie (Dunfermline) - inspired future generations of footballing youngsters to also reach for the stars.”
A verse from Mr Farmer’s poem ‘Seeds of Sporting Ambition’ published in ‘Lamping the Flame’ reads: “To emulate the achievements; of those who’ve already made it, the venerated local heroes, oft-feted and idolised, epitomising much that is grant and good about simple human Sporting endeavour, a deserved mantle of greatness, worn with pride.
n Andrew Farmer’s book ‘Lamping the Flame’, ISBN 0-9527254-0-2