Friends, family and former team-mates in mourning for Selkirk and Hawick football legend Brian McConnell, alias the Bear

Friends, family and former team-mates are in mourning for Borders football legend Brian McConnell following his death at the age of 70.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 8:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 8:45 am
Brian McConnell, alias the Bear, during his playing days
Brian McConnell, alias the Bear, during his playing days

Born in 1951, McConnell, nicknamed the Bear, began making a name for himself locally as a centre-forward the decade after and continued playing right up until the end of the 1990s.

He played for three teams in his home-town of Hawick – Hawick United, Hawick Royal Albert, as they were known then, and Hawick Legion – as well as Gala Fairydean, albeit only very fleetingly, but he is probably best remembered for his time at Selkirk in the 1970s.

It was at the Royal British Legion Scotland club’s team that he eventually ended his playing career at the age of 48.

Brian McConnell, third from right at the front, with Selkirk's south Scottish qualifying cup-winning team

One of three siblings along with brother Davie, later a player for St Mirren, and sister Elizabeth, he was educated at Hawick High School and the old St Margaret’s RC Primary School in the town’s Buccleuch Terrace.

He went on to work at two of the town’s textile mills, the old Peter Scott factory in Buccleuch Street and Hawick Knitwear in Liddesdale Road.

Though best known for his prowess on the football pitch, McConnell was also a talented swimmer, winning several championships as a youngster and representing Scotland at water polo.

He is survived by wife Irene, son Neal, daughter Leah and four grandchildren – Aiva, Erin, Iyla, Robbie and Oscar.

Brian McConnell, in the middle row fourth from the right with his brother Davie to his right, lining up for Selkirk for the 1975/76 season

A spokesman for Hawick Legion said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of club legend Brian McConnell.

“Brian was highly respected and was immensely popular both as a player and coach at the club.

“He was a massive influence on so many players through the years.

“He will be sadly missed, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all those who knew him.”

Brian McConnell, at the back on the far right, with Selkirk in 1977

A spokesperson for Gala Fairydean Rovers added: “The club were saddened to learn of the passing of Borders football legend Brian McConnell.

“He was a key player in the all-conquering Selkirk side of the mid-1970s.

“Although his career centred on Selkirk and Hawick, the Bear, as he was affectionately known, did manage one Gala Fairydean appearance when he played in Davie Miller’s testimonial against Hearts in 1980.

“Our thoughts go out to all Brian’s family and friends at this sad time.”