Rangers and Scotland football hero Ronnie Mackinnon has died at the age of 83.
The star of the 1960s and 70s had family connections in Carloway and had returned to Lewis several years ago along with his South African wife, Elizabeth, initially settling in Upper Garrabost in Point.
Ronnie, who once had the unenviable task of marking Pele in an international match against Brazil, was a club ambassador for the Lewis and Harris Rangers Supporters' Club.
Announcing his death last night, the club said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our club ambassador, Ronnie MacKinnon. A much-respected member of our club and community, Ronnie will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts and deepest condolences go to Elizabeth and family at this time.”
His former club, Rangers, for whom he made 487 first team appearances between 1959 and 1973 and won 10 major trophies, also issued a statement last night.
On their website, Rangers FC stated: “Everyone associated with Rangers Football Club is saddened to learn of the passing of former player Ronnie MacKinnon, at the age of 83.
“MacKinnon, a Hall of Fame member, won two league titles, four Scottish Cups and three League Cups, while he was also capped 28 times by Scotland.
“The club extends our sympathy to Elizabeth, his widow, and all his family.
In an obituary published later, Rangers FC stated: “Ronnie MacKinnon’s contribution to Rangers was enormous, and he will forever be remembered as a great of the club through his Hall of Fame recognition.”
Just hours before his passing, the Lewis and Harris Rangers Supporters’ Club had held a tribute night to celebrate the career of the Rangers legend. The sold-out event, which Ronnie had been unable to attend, was joined by special guests John Bennett, James Bisgrove, Colin Stewart, Peter McCloy, Alex Macdonald, and Ian Durrant of Rangers FC.
Ronnie spent the bulk of his professional playing career at Rangers FC and was capped by Scotland on 28 occasions. He was a Hall of Fame member who won two league titles, four Scottish Cups and three League Cups. His 12-year career coincided with other Rangers icons, John Greig and Jim Baxter.
Though best known for his exploits at Ibrox and in a Scotland jersey, one of Mackinnon’s first clubs was the junior side, Dunipace FC.
Among the many career highlights was lifting the 1970 Scottish League Cup wearing a Captain’s armband as John Greig missed the final through injury. Rangers beat Old Firm rivals Celtic 1-0 thanks to a header from 16-year-old Derek Johnstone.
Having broken a leg and quitting Rangers aged 31, Mackinnon’s twilight years as a pro footballer were in South Africa, where he played for Durban United and Durban City.
Mackinnon’s mother was from Carloway. Born in 1940, he was evacuated to the Isle of Lewis during World War Two. His twin brother, Donnie, was also a professional footballer who spent 14 years at Partick Thistle.