Brechin City FC has led tributes to former player and manager John Ritchie, a hugely popular figure in Scottish football, following his death at the age of 70.
Over two spells with the Glebe Park side, goalkeeper Ritchie made more than 300 Scottish Football League appearances before going on to manage the club for six seasons during which he helped guide the Angus outfit to the Second Division championship.
Ritchie began his career with Cowdenbeath and played more than 100 times for them before moving to Glebe Park in 1967.
It is with great sadness that Brechin City FC confirm the passing of former player and manager John Ritchie at the age of 70. https://t.co/6WJW6f6tKi
— Brechin City FC Official (@BrechinCityFC) June 2, 2018
He then had a spell with Bradford City, before joining Dundee United in 1974 for a short time prior to returning to Glebe Park for a second spell until his retirement in 1981, by which time he had notched up 450 league appearances.
He stayed on as a member of the Brechin coaching staff alongside Ian Fleming and helped lead the side to the 1982/83 season Second Division title – their first national success.
He returned as Manager from 1987 to 1993 and guided City to the Second Division Championship again in 1990 beating a much fancied Kilmarnock side, led by the late Tommy Burns, to the title.
Ritchie then enjoyed coaching roles with Hibs and Dunfermline before making a coaching return to Glebe Park in 2004/05, and was latterly involved at Gayfield Park alongside close friends Dick and Ian Campbell and John Young.
We are deeply saddened and still in a state of shock that our friend, and goalkeeping coach John Ritchie sadly passed away on Friday. JR was an absolute gentleman and much loved. Our thoughts go out to John’s Family at this very difficult time. RIP JR https://t.co/mGgMoa1Qnb pic.twitter.com/abeAy8WHSq
— Arbroath FC (@ArbroathFC) June 2, 2018
In a statement on the club website, Brechin FC said they had been deeply saddened to learn of Ritchie’s passing.
“John enjoyed subsequent success in the never-to-be-forgotten match against Clyde at Douglas Park in Hamilton, when a last minute penalty from Mark Millar secured a dramatic second place promotion in front of the BBC Sportscene cameras at the end of season 1992/93,” said the club.
John RitchieAll involved at Station Park have been saddened by the news this weekend of the death of John…
“Everyone associated with the club passes their condolences to John’s family and friends – including son Paul who also played for Brechin City with distinction.”
Ritchie moved to Gayfield from Spartans FC Women in July 2016, linking up with the Campbell brothers and John Young in an enduring friendship of more than four decades.
Gayfield Park chairman Mike Caird said: “John was an absolute gentleman and you couldn’t help but smile or laugh when in his company.
“No matter the situation, he would always find time for you and was as caring as he was kind.
“His dedication and knowledge of the game was a great help to Dick, Ian and John and he will be sadly missed by everyone connected with the club.”
“We know that John has played a huge part in the careers of so many players and influenced so many teams and we were very proud that he became part of the Arbroath family.”