Archie Finlay dedicated himself to St Andrews

‘Cool under pressure and strong in the air’.

Archie Finlay

That was the verdict of the St Andrews Citizen on the 15 year-old centre half who made his debut for St Andrews United against Glencraig Colliery in April 1955.

Archie Finlay who died on October 22 aged 79 more than lived up to his early promise as a footballer, going on to play for Scottish Schoolboys, Dunfermline Athletic and East Fife.

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But his qualities of strength and coolness under pressure were to become bywords in his later career as a firefighter and in his lifelong association with St Andrews United Junior Football Club.

Archie was one of six of a family, son of a tenant farmer from Sunnybraes near Dunino.

His mother gave him his first pair of football boots.

“The best Christmas present I ever got, recalled Archie.

In his time with Dunfermline he regularly drove the 90-mile round trip for training only after he had finished his work for the day.

Methil was closer which was one of the reasons he moved to East Fife and Bayview.

He played for the Scottish Schoolboy team against Northern Ireland in 1954 alongside Denis Law.

Injury brought Archie’s top level career to a premature close, but he returned to play for his beloved St Andrews United before hanging up his boots in 1967 to concentrate on a new career as a leading fireman at RAF Leuchars.

But the pull of Recreation Park was too strong. He was one of United’s longest-serving committee members, including the chairmanship of the Football Club between 1982 and 1985.

He brought his cool head and wise counsel to the campaign to fund and build the St Andrews United Social Club which opened in 1982 .

His involvement here was very much hands-on as he also helped with the construction work of the club pavilion between shifts at RAF Leuchars.

Archie remains one of only two people rewarded with life memberships of both St Andrews United Football Club and the social club.

He is survived by his wife, Linda, daughters Frances and Sandra, and grandchildren, Sarah, Rachel and Alexander.

A spokesman for Saints said: “Everybody at Barnetts Park was extremely saddened to learn of Archie’s death.

“He dedicated a huge amount of his life to our club as a player, long-serving committee member and chairman between 1982 and 1985.

“Without Archie’s commitment and vision we would not be enjoying the use of our current changing rooms or social club.

“He was also a very talented player who was unfortunate to miss the 1960 Scottish Junior Cup winning match at Hampden Park as well as the Swifts’ Scottish Juvenile Cup victory the previous year. The Finlays have connections with St Andrews going back decades and we were touched that so many members of Archie’s family plus a couple of his former team mates attended last Saturday’s game at Barnetts Park in order to take part in the minute’s silence. On behalf of the committee, players and management of St Andrews United, we would like to express sincere condolences to Archie’s family at this difficult time.”

St Andrews United held a minute’s silence before last Saturday’s match with Glenrothes in memory of the former club stalwart, chairman and life member of both football club and social club, Archie Finlay.

United went on to win 8-1, their best result of the season.

Alex Reid, who is Archie’s grandson, was at the game along with some of United’s Scottish Junior Cup winners.

“They were excellent.

“Granddad would have been so proud,” said Alex.