MATT Speirs was quite simply, the best Regional Secretary Scottish Junior Football ever had.

During his long stewardship, the Ayrshire Region, for all the local rivalries simmering away beneath the surface, was a model of probity and a well-run organisation. This was down in no small measure to Matt Speirs, as Regional Secretary, and his right-hand man and fellow Hurlford United man, John McMurtrie.

But he was more than that.

During his period as Lottery Manager of the SJFA, he oversaw a competition was was a lifeline to the smaller clubs in the junior game. And this was his strength; Matt knew full well, the likes of Auchinleck Talbot, Kilbirnie Ladeside, Irvine Meadow or Glenafton were as good as any of the nearly 200 Scottish junior clubs. However, he also helped the smaller village sides.

The Kilmarnock man gave over 30 years to Ayrshire junior football, as club secretary at Hurlford, then the epitome of neutrality as regional secretary, through his work with the lottery, and as Secretary then President of the West of Scotland Junior FA, and as a press liaison man with the local and national media, providing results and news as well as later becoming a junior football correspondent.

He had the support of his wife Celia, and, when Celia, who was if anything more-popular around the clubs than Matt, died in 2008, around the time the West of Scotland Regional Leagues were formed, well, the time was right for Matt to step down.

But, Matt had another life - he was a devout and committed Christian, an elder, the senior elder, of St Marnock’s and St Andrew’s Church in Scotland, and it was there that a good congregation went last Friday for a memorial service. Matt had died as he had lived - quietly.

Aged 86, he had been in failing health for some time, but set-off to Somerset, to see his daughter Carole and his seven grandchildren. On arrival he said this would be his last visit. Sadly, within days, his health deteriorated and on July 6, in the care of a hospice, Matt passed away. At the memorial service, his humility, integrity and dignity were stressed. Matt was a doer, whether as secretary and treasurer of the Sunday School, as a representative at the Presbytery of Ayr, or as a Commissioner at the General Assembly, or a tireless supporter of and fund-raiser for CHAS – the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, or keeping Ayrshire junior football on the right track, Matt Speirs got things done, efficiently and quickly.

Nobody had a bad word for Matt Speirs, who wore a smile on his face and enjoyed a laugh. Scottish Junior Cup-winning manager Dennis Gray said Matt was “a gentleman” while former Cumnock secretary Ian Coughtrie added: “We will not see his like again.”



SPORTS Editor Stewart McConnell this week paid tribute to Matt Speirs, a man who considerably helped his understanding of junior football.

He said: “I first had the pleasure of meeting Matt at football functions and games as a cub reporter and he gave me some great insights into the world of junior football and the characters associated with it. In the early part of my career, I attended monthly disciplinary meetings where he was firm but always fair when hearing of offences committed by players who were sent off. He would read the whole charge, including at times industrial language and managed to keep his face straight although also saw the funny side.

“For the past 16 years Matt served as our Junior Football Correspondent for initially the Ayr Advertiser but also other papers in the group when needed and he could make what seemed a routine game seem really interesting. But he was always obliging and he also talked to me about his church responsibilities and how he could juggle them with football commitments. He served the Ayrshire Junior FA and West of Scotland Junior FA. But he would have made a great Scottish Junior FA Secretary. RIP Matt.”