Tributes paid to family man and football stalwart, John Smith

Former Ancrum Football Club coach and manager John Smith, who died this month.
Former Ancrum Football Club coach and manager John Smith, who died this month.

Tributes have been paid to a Borders football stalwart who died suddenly while watching his side play earlier this month.

Former Ancrum AFC manager John Smith, 63, died from an abdominal aneurism as he watched Ancrum’s 7-3 win at St Boswells, on Saturday, September 15.

He was attended to by bystanders, sports medics and paramedics, but could not be saved.

And as tributes poured in this week, John, a former coach and manager at Ancrum AFC has been described as a proud dad, doting papa and the life and soul of Ancrum Football Club.

His son Andy, said: “He was mad for football.

“It was everything about the game...bringing people together, seeing the young lads grow in confidence and being made to work for their rewards- that was the element that he adored.

“The effort that he put into Ancrum AFC was unbelievable. He took it very seriously. If you played in his team you had to be the best and show your commitment.

“He enjoyed coaching all the different ages groups over his time at the club and was involved at every level from managing to supporting on the sidelines.

“If he could have hand-picked a way to go he would have picked to go as suddenly as he did and doing what he was doing.”

Away from the pitch, John was also a proud dad to Angela and Sharon, a doting papa to Taylor, Maddie and Riley and a much loved son, brother, uncle, nephew and friend to many.

“He was working hard so that he could cut back, enjoy his retirement and watch his grand kids growing up,” Andy said. “That’s the biggest tragedy. That he was robbed of that.

“He was proud as punch of his family and it’s very hard to let go of somebody that was so big.”

Originally from Port William, near Stranraer, John moved around the Borders living in Kelso, Stichill and Ancrum before settling in Jedburgh 20 years ago.

He was a huge country music, rock and roll and Elvis fan and fulfilled a lifelong ambition to visit Graceland, USA, a few summers ago.

Before becoming a taxi driver in the mid 2000s, and latterly setting up his own firm JS Taxis, John worked as a coal man.

“He was his own man and enjoyed being his own boss,” Andy added. “He was the happiest man I knew and that was down to his surroundings and the folk he spent his time with, and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who made his life as rich as it was.

“He was one in a million that’s for sure. I’m only learning to what extend now. The support we’ve received has been absolutely magnificent.”

Ancrum AFC has described John, an ex-manager, coach and committee member, as “the heart and soul of the club”

Its chairman Graham McDonald said: “John will be a huge miss to the club. He was a hard working committee member for many years and, genuinely, a really nice guy.

“He has spent about ten years bringing on the youth teams and did really well at that.

“He stepped up and took on the manager role for the senior team in 2015 when we couldn’t get a manager.

“He did a super job, got them all together, doing well and left a really good squad for the next manager. The lads are still there and doing well, which is a great tribute to him.

“A lot of them knew John from when he coached them as kids too and as adults he not only looked after them on the pitch, but would them look after them at night, picking them up from all over the place and getting them home safely in his taxi.”

John’s funeral will be held at Jedburgh Old and Trinity Parish Church on Friday, September 28 at 11.45am followed by cremation at Borders Crematorium at 1pm to which all family and friends are respectfully invited.

No flowers please. Donations if desired may be made in aid of charities in memory of John. Club scarves and ties may be worn.