A man described as ‘a legend of island football’ was laid to rest today (Wednesday 20 September) at Dalmore cemetery.
James ‘Jimmy’ Craigie of Park Carloway passed away on Sunday morning, surrounded by his family and after their loving care over some years of ill health. He was 90 years old.
A seaman, crofter, Harris Tweed weaver and a family man, he was also widely appreciated as a former player, manager and committee member at Carloway Football Club.
At his funeral service today, Reverend Duncan Macaskill described him as a ‘people’s person’ with an amazing sense of humour, who alternately teased and sang Gaelic song to the nurses responsible for his care in latter days.
Jimmy was born in Maryhill, Glasgow in 1932, but the family moved to Carloway when war broke out. He left home for the Merchant Navy at the age of 14 and sailed the world with the Blue Star Line until 1965.
Returning home, he took up weaving and crofting, with a fondness for his sheep which meant each of them had a name, and a developing reputation for his enthusiastic support of football, both locally and with Rangers FC.
He was forced to learn to drive after he met Kayella, a nurse who lived in Point, and they were married in 1972, raising a family of five.
Jimmy’s playing career began and ended with Carloway Football Club, who posted a tribute describing him as an integral personality in the resurrection of Carloway FC in the late 1970s, when he took on the responsibility of managing teams at both senior and junior levels.
His participation extended beyond managing the teams, to all aspects of running the club. That included everything from raising funds to driving the team bus and cutting the grass.
A Carloway FC spokesperson said: “No job was too small for Jimmy when it came to the football club and he was a driving force in ensuring the club continued to thrive – at great personal and financial sacrifice.”
Son Douglas said that football and the club were a huge part of Jimmy’s life, right to the end. He had a knack for finding and attracting players, especially since his encyclopaedic knowledge of the genealogy of players throughout the island meant no possibility was missed.
In other tributes, friends described him as ‘a real character’, a true gentleman and a legend of island football, as well as a great mentor to other players.
Former player Willie ‘Dola’ said he was very sad, adding: “He was a great guy, a gentleman who helped us in our early days, a father figure to us Uigeachs with a warm smile, a smart comment and above all a welcoming home at Pentland Drive."
Jimmy is mourned by his wife of 50 years, Kayella, children Corinne, Alistair, Gordon, Douglas and Michelle, six grandchildren, his surviving sister Helen and her family and a huge number of other relations, friends and neighbours.
The pictures show the Carloway under-18 team of 1981 with Jimmy as manager on the left (Carloway FC) and family pictures of Jimmy with Kayella, with young grandchildren and at home earlier this year.