Footballer and manager:

Born March 1948; Died May 30, 2011.

EDDIE Morrison, who has died suddenly aged 63, was a prolific goalscorer, later club manager and undoubted Kilmarnock FC legend.

Gourock born-and-bred, Morrison played as a goalkeeper while a pupil at St Columba’s High School but moved outfield by the time he was spotted by the Ayrshire club while playing for Port Glasgow Juniors.

He signed for Kilmarnock in January 1967 and made the first of his 352 appearances for the club on February 4, 1967, scoring the first of his 154 goals – the second-highest total in the club’s history – in that match, which Hibs won 3-1.

He did not feature again that season, but was back in the team for the visit to Celtic Park in November of that year and by the end of season 1967-68, with 14 goals from 24 appearances, he was an established first team player and would remain so for the rest of his time at Rugby Park.

Prior to his departure at the end of the 1975-76 season, leaving after helping the club regain its place in Scotland’s top flight (they had finished outside the top 10 clubs which formed the inaugural Premier Division that season) Morrison had three times led the Kilmarnock scoring charts, forming prolific combinations with firstly Ross Mathie, then Ian Fleming. His best scoring season was 1973-74, during which he scored 32 goals.

The arrival of ex-Celt Willie Fernie as manager saw Morrison fall out of favour and after coming off the bench against Dumbarton, at Boghead, on January 17, 1976, his first team days were over at Rugby Park. He joined hometown team Morton, with whom he played out his career over the next two seasons, and it was at Cappielow that he turned to coaching. He even had a couple of spells as caretaker boss at Cappielow during his time with that club.

In 1985, Jim Clunie resigned as Kilmarnock boss and to the delight of the fans, to whom he would always be a hero, Morrison returned to Rugby Park in the manager’s seat. But these were grim times for the club – part-time, heavily in debt and without the players of the quality of Tommy McLean, Fleming, Gordon Smith, Frank Beattie, Jackie McGrory, Davie Provan and Jim Stewart, alongside whom Morrison had played.

He approached management with the same whole-hearted attitude he had displayed as a player, but was unable to stem the decline and, in 1989, with Kilmarnock slipping towards relegation, the Fleeting brothers, Bobby and Jim won a bitter take-over battle, with Jim Fleeting taking over as manager, and one-time Morrison team-mate Jim McSherry as assistant.

The boardroom battle might have been bitter, but McSherry has always spoken highly of Morrison’s help in the transition: “Eddie always was one of the good guys, a marvellous team mate and friend, a terrific, positive force in the dressing room and it is tragic that he should be taken at such a young age,” he said.

Morrison went back to Morton, as a youth coach, but latterly his time at Cappielow was mainly spent in a public relations capacity, while he performed a sterling unpaid job as chauffeur and companion to Morton legend and golfing partner Allan McGraw, helping the crippled former striker stay in touch with the game.

Away from football Morrison’s easy charm, ready laugh and ability to get on with people made him for many years a highly-valued member of the circulation and customer services team at the The Herald and Evening Times.

He underwent a triple bypass operation in 2007 and had apparently made a good recovery. He was married to Catherine, who survives him with their children Craig, Elaine and Pauline, and six grandchildren.

Morrison’s escutcheon is not embellished with international caps and medals, but he had something far more valuable. The fans loved him; they even had a terracing chant dedicated to him. This was last heard at Rugby Park a couple of seasons ago, when, at a “legends” function in the Park Suite, he was called up to receive an award. He later divulged to McSherry, who was sitting beside him, that he had actually started the chant himself on that occasion.

Eddie Morrison, who died while on the flight home from a holiday in Turkey, was a mischievous, fun-loving, man who lived life as he played football – with a smile on his face.