Double blow for Kilmarnock as two stalwarts pass away

Niven Rose and Eddie Harris played central roles in club's rise to close to the summit of Scottish club rugby in the late 1970s

Niven Rose (front and centre) played for Scotland B and was part of the Kilmarnock seven which was the dominant force i the west during the 1970s. Image courtesy: 'Rugby Memories Scotland'
Niven Rose (front and centre) played for Scotland B and was part of the Kilmarnock seven which was the dominant force i the west during the 1970s. Image courtesy: 'Rugby Memories Scotland'

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.

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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.

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About Matt Vallance 37 Articles
Matt is a former member of Cumnock Rugby Club's 'Mean Machine' - motto: "Well, we won the fight". He has written about some 60 sports in a long career, mainly spent freelancing for, amongst others: The Herald, The Scotsman, The Sunday Times, Scotland on Sunday, the late-lamented Sunday Standard and just about every national paper. He survived a spell at the Paisley Daily Express, covering St Mirren and the Paisley Pirates every week. He now writes a lot of sporting obituaries, since he saw many of his subjects play. Opinionated, passionate and, as one Bill McMurtire once said: "The only Cumnock member (other than Mark Bennett) who can be let out without an escort". In his 70th year, Matt, known to many as: 'Snuff', still has a few noses to get up. Unfulfilled ambition - to live long enough to see Scotland beat the All Blacks.


  1. Sad news indeed, thoughts with the families of both and the Kilmarnock club from a rival in the pink and black.

  2. I played against both of them for many years and both were good players and really good guys you could chat to after a game. Niven was an exceptional full back with great pace.
    Haven’t seen him for years but often saw and chatted with Eddie at Fullarton where he often visited to watch Marr games in Premiership.
    Sad loss.

  3. The Magnificent seven. Niven was an outstanding player, and a gentleman. When he retired he coached the Kilmarnock 2 XV and occasionally put his boots on. Should have had a full cap.

  4. Hi, could it be possible to tell me what happened to Richard Allan in the picture. Is he still alive.
    I know he moved to Spain Many years ago.
    Bottom left.

    • I enjoyed numerous jousts and the odd post-match beer vs very competitive Kilmarnock & Glasgow opponent Dick Allan back in the day. I’d heard about certain business comings & goings, and him moving to Spain, but believe he may no longer be with us.

      • Good story, Keith. As with numerous others, Jimmy Bennett’s learning curve commenced in that heavenly hookers’ haven otherwise known as the Kingdom of Fife……

      • I recall playing Kilmarnock in the early 1980s in a game when they clinched promotion back to the old 1st Division. As a young hooker my then coach (Jim Bennett ex Clarkston Hooker), told me to “go low, this guy does not like it”.

        I went as low as I could, but to no avail, the guy was seemingly a piece of elastic.

        At half time I said “I thought you said he did not like going low?”
        “Different Guy”
        The different guy was a very wise, able and experienced Dickie Allan.
        Some pearls of wisdom for me post match as well as I recall.

  5. My goodness Niven Rose was a terrific player to watch. Great loss. So too Eddie Harris although I don’t remember him – probably had moved south before he became a stalwart for Kilmarnock.

    I noticed on the rugby memories fbook page you weren’t sure who the player to the left of Jimmie Gibson was – pretty sure its Billy Davidson

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