He was born in Stoneyburn, West Lothian, and started his football career with Haddington Athletic. His pace and scoring exploits soon attracted the attention of scouts from larger clubs and in one remarkable season, he played juvenile, junior and senior football.

McCrae moved to Tynecastle and played for Hearts in 1941, becoming a regular member of the side during the later war years before moving to London and Charlton

Athletic in 1947/48. But he never really settled there, playing just 43 league games for the club, scoring nine goals in the process.

Middlesbrough paid the then significant sum of £10,000 for his transfer in 1948/49 and he quickly became a great favourite on Teeside. He was at his best alongside the great Wilf

Mannion and hit a purple patch in 1951 when he scored 21 goals from 32 starts, including three hat-tricks before Christmas.

He was destined to become a Boro’ legend when he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over local rivals Newcastle. His Ayresome Park career saw him turn out in 122 League matches and he scored an impressive 47 goals. He was very close to winning Scotland honours at the time.

McCrae returned to Scotland in 1952 and joined Falkirk and scored in his debut, a 4-1 win at Shawfield. By then he was 32, but was very fit indeed and his displays for Falkirk led to a press campaign for him to be capped.

McCrae was very much an inside forward in the classic mould – fast, clever, good ball control and capable of scoring some really spectacular goals.

He was Falkirk’s joint top scorer for 1955/56 and played in every single game. Despite his advancing years, he kept up a remarkable level of

fitness and was a member of the squad when Falkirk won the Scottish Cup Final in 1957, although he did not play in any of the games.

His remarkable last game for Falkirk was on Friday, April 26, 1957, when Falkirk beat Raith Rovers 3-2, but were fined for fielding a “weakened team”.

The club had to play four games in five days, so manager Reggie Smith rested some of his cup winning side as they had a game the following day. McCrae played a total of 116 games for The Bairns and his goal tally of 43 was impressive. He was a great coach to the younger players at the club and his experience was invaluable.

On leaving Brockville he took up the role of player-manager with Ballymena United in Northern Ireland and he brought instant success to the Braid, as Ballymena finished third and won the Irish Cup in 1957/1958. Many felt this was the best ever side at Ballymena and it included a young centre-half, Tommy Lowry, who McCrae later brought to Brockville.

Ballymena beat Linfield in the showpiece final, with McGhee and Russell scoring the goals in a 2-0 win at the Oval in front of 24,000 spectators. The following year, McCrae’s side reached the final again but lost to Glenavon 2-0 after a 1-1 draw.

His success had alerted his old club and he was a unanimous choice to replace the ill-fated Tommy Younger, with the club struggling in the old Second Division. Promotion was achieved in his first season and he was in charge for 230 league and cup games.

All those who played for him pay testimony to his open, honest approach and his kindness.

McCrae’s portrait is in the Falkirk Hall of Fame and he is fondly remembered by all who knew him as a player and manager.

He is survived by his daughter.