Bairns mourn passing of another 1957 Falkirk cup hero

Eddie O'Hara (front centre, white jersey) and Jimmy McIntosh (left) with some of their 1957 team-mates.
Eddie O'Hara (front centre, white jersey) and Jimmy McIntosh (left) with some of their 1957 team-mates.

A second member of Falkirk’s 1957 Scottish Cup winning squad has died within the space of two weeks.

Eddie O’Hara has passed away just short of his 81st birthday and just a short time after the death of his former Falkirk and Scotland under-23 colleague Jimmy McIntosh.

Their passing means that there are now just two survivors from the Bairns side which lifted the trophy with victory over Kilmarnock 59 years ago.

A club statement said that outside-left Eddie, who had been ill for some time, would be fondly remembered by all Falkirk fans as the mercurial winger who played a huge role in the famous cup run.

It continued: “Eddie was one of several promising youngsters signed by manager Bob Shankly as he tried to find a blend of experience and youth. Eddie’s footballing ability was obvious early on, when he was selected to play for Scotland Schoolboys. He had caught the eye while at Shettleston, and several Senior clubs were on the trail of the speedy youngster.

“He joined up at Brockville and there was fierce competition for the wide berths with Eddie, Willie Sinclair and Tommy Murray all in contention for a first team place. The Scotland Under 23 selectors were often seen at Falkirk games and it came as no surprise when no fewer than four were selected in the squad to face Holland at Tynecastle on October 23rd 1957.

They were Alex Parker, Jimmy McIntosh, Bert Slater (Reserve) and Eddie O’Hara. The young Scots won 4-1 and Eddie was impressive at that level. He earned two further honours at Under 23 level, against England at Goodison in a 3-1 defeat, and finally in Amsterdam, where the Dutch won 2-1. It can’t be a coincidence that some of that Scotland side ended up as Everton signings and goalscorer Alex Young, Alex Parker, Alex Scott and Eddie all moved to the Merseyside club not long afterwards.

“Falkirk fans knew that the club would lose the talented Parker sooner rather than later, but few could have predicted that Eddie would be part of that transfer double deal. The fee received was £18,000 - a mere pittance compared to today’s inflated fees. Eddie found the challenge at Goodison a tough one, but made 29 League starts for The Toffees before moving to Rotherham where he stayed until 1961.

“He returned to Scotland and played a season with Morton before returning South to end his UK career at Barnsley. He gave good service at Oakwell, playing on either wing and scoring 36 League goals in a league career of 127 matches. Eddie emigrated to South Africa after this and played in the National Football League during the Apartheid era. The 1960s and 1970s saw the NFL become a chance for a final pay-day for British players reaching the end of their careers. Many stars would come to South Africa in the close season and guest for clubs. FIFA had banned clubs, but not individual players, from playing in South Africa.

“Eddie was flown over from South Africa by the Falkirk Senior Bairns to attend the 50th Anniversary Dinner for the surviving cup-winners in 2007, and he was able to renew friendships with his old team-mates. Eddie was a lively character and he was a great player for Falkirk.

All at Falkirk FC are saddened to learn of Eddie’s death and we send our sincere condolences to his family and friends at this time.”

A minute of applause in memory of both Eddie and Jimmy McIntosh took place before Saturday’s match with Dunfermline.