Obituary: Ian Cashmore, footballer and coach

Ian Cashmore: Footballer who excelled in youth coaching after breaking his neck during training
Ian Cashmore: Footballer who excelled in youth coaching after breaking his neck during training
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Born: Kilwinning, Ayrshire, 4 October, 1960. Died: Kilwinning, 28 April, 2014, aged 53

Ian Cashmore survived a life-changing, career-ending football injury, to re-invent himself as a charismatic grassroots coach.

His life was changed for ever in November, 1982, when he broke his neck during a training session with Ayr United. This left him confined to a wheelchair, but he refused to give up on football and put all his energies into youth development.

He formed Dirrans BC then Kilwinning Sports Club, in his native Kilwinning, laying down the fundamentals of the game to the youngest age-group, the under-sevens, before recruiting parents and leading them through their youth coach badges, to spread the game.

His successes at the unglamorous end of football were recognised in 2010 when Kenny Dalglish presented him with the Uefa silver Grassroots Leaders award, in recognition of his work in developing young ­talent.

Cashmore was Kilwinning born-and-bred. On leaving school he served his apprenticeship as a turner with a local engineering firm, while scoring goals for fun in the local youth leagues. His prowess saw him snapped-up by Ayr United and Jim Fleeting, like Cashmore from Kilwinning, recalls fun-filled car journeys, with Fleeting driving and Cashmore and future Scotland “cap” Stevie Nicol keeping the banter flowing from the passenger seat.

Although known as “Cashy” to the fans, Ian was known inside the dressing room as “The Beam”, because, being incredibly shy, he would colour up intensely when disconcerted.

The Ayr United team of the time was managed by Willie McLean, the eldest of the three managerial McLean brothers. Competition was fierce and Cashy only managed 38 games, scoring eight goals, before former teammate Jim McSherry, who had been appointed manager of Berwick Rangers, took him to the East Coast, initially on loan, before making the move permanent.

He continued to live and work in Kilwinning, only meeting his wee Rangers teammates on match days and training twice a week with his old club.

In November 1982, his life was changed irrevocably when, during a Thursday night training session at Somerset Park, he fell awkwardly and, after he was taken by ambulance to hospital, it was discovered he had broken his neck.

Celtic and Sunderland met at Berwick in a testimonial match, while, back in Ayrshire, a fund-raising effort was launched and a trust fund was set up to ensure he could live as normal a life as possible. It was then, with playing football no longer an ­option, that Cashmore found his vocation as an inspiring coach.

He always stressed the importance of being two-footed, sparing no young player, not even his own son, Ian Junior, who followed him on to the staff at Ayr United and today still plays, for Ayrshire junior side Ardrossan Winton Rovers.

Whenever Fleeting, or Mc­Sherry or another of his former teammates persuaded Cashy to attend a senior match, he was always well-received. The Ayr fans in particular never forgot him; but he was happiest coaching youngsters just starting out in football. His popularity was shown by the full-house at his funeral service in Kilwinning Abbey.

For him, having adapted to life in a wheelchair, the end came suddenly. In February, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer of the bladder. By the end of April, he had lost his brave fight for life.

Cashmore is survived by his wife Cathy, Ian jnr, Lauren and Amanda. Had he lived, he would have become a grandfather in August.