Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Frank Beattie

It’s maybe to our shame that those of us who don’t count ourselves as Kilmarnock supporters might never have heard of Frank Beattie, whose funeral takes place tomorrow.

Beattie, or Big Frank, played for Kilmarnock from 1953 to 1972, playing over 600 games in his one club career, earning the love and respect of the fans as the “heart and soul” of the side.

His greatest achievement came in 1965 when, almost unimaginably today, he led the Ayrshire side to the championship. The team that pipped Hearts to the league were unfancied journeymen and Beattie’s unswerving loyalty and commitment to the cause galvanised them into a side capable of beating all comers.

The moment of Beattie’s greatest triumph also represented a watershed moment for Scottish football.

Between 1950 and 1965 Hibs and Hearts (twice each), Dundee and Aberdeen joined Kilmarnock in breaking the Old Firm stranglehold.

Since 1965 only Aberdeen (three times) and Dundee United have been able to stop the momentum of the Glasgow sides.

Those statistics suggest that Frank Beattie belonged to a different era. Perhaps he did. But the affection with which is still held at Kilmarnock are a reminder that the qualities that fans most admire in footballers and in men are rarely forgotten.