‘Cool under pressure and strong in the air’. That was the verdict of the St Andrews Citizen on 15 year-old centre half Archie Finlay 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.
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.
But as a teenager, football had to take second place to his work on the farm.
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.
Years later the two met up again and Archie was able to present Denis with a photograph of that schoolboy team which the legendary Scotland striker had never seen.
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.
Archie remained at Leuchars for the next 34 years, on several occasions turning down opportunities to further his career by moving away from St Andrews.
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 St Andrews United Social Club.
He is survived by his wife, Linda, daughters Frances and Sandra, and grandchildren, Sarah, Rachel and Alexander.