KILMARNOCK Rugby Club suffered a double blow on Friday, with notification of the passing of two stalwarts from the club’s rise to First Division status at the start of the official Scottish leagues in the 1970s (they peaked with a third place finish in 1978).
The two men who passed on the same day were Eddie Harris, a great servant to the Bellsland club over many years, and the brilliant full-back Niven Rose.
Rose first came to prominence while playing with the junior club Dalry High School FP – which later merged with Old Speirians to form Garnock. With them he was chosen for Ayrshire and then after a stand-out performance for Ayrshire and Renfrewshire in the District trial, he found himself in the full Glasgow squad. This led to Scotland B caps and for a time, Rose was ranked above Andy Irvine among Scottish full-backs.
There is a belief in Ayrshire that Rose’s refusal to travel through to Murrayfield for a Sunday squad session soured the selectors against him and they promoted Irvine instead.
Whatever, Rose became a key player for Kilmarnock-Ayrshire, when the Bellsland club, Dalry and Ardrossan Accies combined to form that club. Then, when it became simply Kilmarnock, he continued to perform with panache for the club and for Glasgow District. He was a marvellous broken field runner, a skill he demonstrated too with Kilmarnock’s ‘Magnificent Seven,’ a septet which was the dominant sevens side in the west at the time.
Harris was more of a steady stalwart, but, he too gave many years of service to the club. Regardless of the number on his back, he always gave 100 percent to the jersey.