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KEVIN McCARRA: POET IN A PRESS BOX

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KEVIN McCARRA, a gentleman blessed with a range of prose envied by so many of his profession, passed away on Saturday at the age of 62.

This truly gifted and marvellously innovative writer was a football correspondent whose words illuminated the sports pages of Scotland on Sunday, the Sunday Times, London Times and the Guardian. He was also the author of two excellent Celtic books, ‘One Afternoon in Lisbon’ and ‘Celtic: A Biography in Nine Lives’.

McCarra finally succumbed at the weekend after an arduous and courageous battle against the awful disease of Alzheimer’s.

Celtic book author Alex Gordon recalls “a lovely human being”. He says: “Kevin was a complete one-off. He really didn’t belong in the dog-eat-dog world of newspapers alongside snarling hacks and their willingness to savage players for a simple mistake.

“He gatecrashed the weary, often-jaundiced world of hackneyed football match reporting. Other scribes would be scribbling furiously of last-minute winners, dodgy refereeing decisions, Man of the Match heroics while Kevin was looking at the 90 minutes from a completely different perspective.

“And you better believe it would be the most artistic, readable and entertaining account of what we had all witnessed.

“I don’t recall too many poets in a press box.

“Kevin was a perfectionist. I remember an autumn afternoon at Fir Park in the early nineties where Motherwell were playing Celtic, the club closest to his heart although there was also a fondness for Partick Thistle. I was sports editor of the Sunday Mail at the time, but I had a rare Saturday off. I had gone to the game with the newspaper’s chief sportswriter Don Morrison. We took our place in the cramped press box and Kevin was sitting at my right.

“Don, who had given me a lift to the ground, told me he would be heading straight back to the office immediately after the game. I was in no rush and Kevin very kindly offered to drive me back into Glasgow after he had written his report. I accepted his invitation.

“On that particular afternoon, I realised why Kevin had earned the reputation as such a perfectionist. The ground was empty, seagulls were landing and the Motherwell ground staff were eagerly awaiting the opportunity to put down tarpaulins in the stand, including the reporters’ area.

“Kevin’s newspaper at the time, I think it was the SOS, had a later deadline than most in the industry and my chum was going to use up every single minute to polish his report.

“Nothing would hurry Kevin that day. The ground staff were making loud noises about ‘having to be home by midnight’, but if Kevin was listening – which I doubt as he was absorbed in his words – he took no notice.

“I can’t remember the exact time Kevin reread his essay for the umpeenth time before he hit the send button. I think he actually got a round of applause from the Motherwell employees. Kevin simply smiled back. He hadn’t intended to keep them from the pub or wherever they were heading that evening.

“It was just the way he was; a perfectionist. No other word to describe Kevin McCarra.

“Rest In Peace, my old friend.”

 
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