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George Burns Anderson

Former president of Beith Juniors

Former president of Beith Juniors

Born: November 8, 1928; Died: January 2, 2014

George Burns Anderson, who has died aged 85, was a dedicated servant of junior football and former president of Beith Juniors. He spent more than 50 years with the club and signed three of their best players: Jackie Copeland, who went on to play with St Mirren and Dundee United; Derek Hamilton who also moved on to St Mirren, and Steve Clark, who became assistant manger of Chelsea.

He was born the eldest of three children to Edward and Christina Anderson and grew up in Barrmill before moving to Beith. He loved the outdoors and was at his happiest running about the braes of Barrmill or with his friends, guddling for trout in the Dusk Water below the Giffen Viaduct where, on an uneven piece of ground, he enjoyed playing football. He was often to be found playing and helping out at Balgraymuir Farm, which at the time owned by Tom Boyd Snr.

He was educated at Greenhills School in Barrmill, where he was dux, and on leaving school, worked initially on a farm. But within a few months he announced that he had a new job at the Barrmill Limestone Quarry. Along with his friend Adam Harvey they decided there was more bonus to be made at the quarry. Shortly thereafter, he took a job as a quarryman with King & Co, where he remained until his retirement. He progressed through the ranks to become a quarry manager and retained his position when the company was taken over by Tarmac.

In late 1946, he was called up for national service - Bombadier Anderson GB 19132621 - and started his training at Dundonald camp near Troon in 1947 during the worst winter in living memory. From there he went briefly to Oswestry, then onto the Royal Artillery at Woolwich Barracks and ultimately spent 18 months at Windmill Hill in Gibraltar.

One of the great loves of his life was football and especially Beith Juniors. He was involved with the club for many years firstly on the committee and then as president from 1960 - 1970 then as the dedicated secretary until 1985. All in he spent more than 50 years serving the club.

He was a great ambassador for the club both at home and away by dint of his warm personality and the respect which he earned in dealing with others. He was heavily involved in fund-raising events for the club and until a few months before his death, still attended the club each Friday morning, helping to line the park for the Saturday game.

With Mr Anderson at the helm, the early 1960s was a halcyon period for Beith Juniors; they reached three West of Scotland cup finals and won the Ayrshire Cup three years in succession and lifted the Ayrshire League championship. In the period 1985-88 when Mr Anderson was match secretary, he signed three of Beith's best ever players. Jackie Copeland went on to play with St Mirren and Dundee United; Derek Hamilton moved on to St Mirren, winning a Scottish cup winners medal with them and Steve Clark went on to play with St Mirren later becoming assistant manger of Chelsea and was lately manager of West Bromich Albion.

The culmination of his outstanding commitment to Beith Juniors resulted in him being presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Scottish Junior Association. This entitled him to attend junior matches with no entrance fee. However this was not in his nature and not only did he purchase a Beith season ticket for himself and his brother-in-law Louis, he also paid at the gate as well - he was an generous, kind and thoughtful man.

The high esteem in which he was held in junior football circles is best illustrated by the tribute paid to him by Beith's oldest rivals, Kilbirnie. At the Valefield Park league match against Pollok on January 11, there was a one minute applause in honour of his memory.

After his retirement, outdoors continued to be a huge part of his life and he knew the byways and tracks around Beith, walking around seven miles most days, more often than not with his life-long friend, Des Plott. They continued their walks up around rural byways until a few months ago when Mr Anderson's illness prevented him getting out.

For most of his life, he kept in good health and his usual answer to any aliment was two disprins and an early night. It came as such a shock when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2009. Although he was 80 at the time he was physically and mentally in good shape and fought it with his usual grit. Unfortunately it did curtail his enjoyment of social occasions especially Burns Night with the Barrmill Jolly Beggars.

When his son Eddie passed away suddenly in November 2013 this took a real toll on Mr Anderson and his health deteriorated rapidly. It was his wish that he was not separated from Mary and when it became too much for them living at home, they moved into Morningside Home for a period of respite and care. Although he was in poor health he enjoyed the many visitors at the home and was still as sharp as ever.

He was a family man through and through and players, committee men and supporters were also enriched by his friendship, leadership and commitment. He was an ever-present reliable servant of the club and a lasting legacy will be that he inspired others to take up the mantle of service-above-self, ensuring that the team he loved so passionately - 'The Mighty' - will survive the precarious ups and downs of junior football.

He is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Nina, son-in-law Ian and grandchildren Andrew and Elaine. He was pre-deceased by his son Edward.

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