Tributes have been paid to a ‘terrific’ north-east football player and coach who died aged 71.
Malcolm Cowie, who was born in Buckie, played full-back for Buckie Thistle, Peterhead, Inverness Caledonian and Keith and managed Nairn County and Elgin City.
He emigrated to New Zealand with his wife in 1988 where he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit – his adopted country’s equivalent of an MBE – for his contribution to football.
He became the first life member of the New Zealand Schools FA, an organisation of which he is an honorary patron.
Highland League president and Buckie Thistle vice-president Raymond Cardno said: “Malcolm was a very good friend of mine and we played together at Peterhead and Buckie Thistle.
“After he stopped playing he was very highly involved in school football and he ended up moving to New Zealand.
“He was a total athlete and very, very quick when he was a player. He played fullback which was an ideal position for him because he was so quick and tenacious.
“He wasn’t a big guy by any means but he was very strong and a terrific footballer.
“He had an even better career as a coach and did so well that he received an honour from the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern.
“Whatever Malcolm got involved with there was total commitment right from the start.
“I remember speaking to him about it and he was amazed he received the honour.
“He will be sorely missed by everyone.”
A statement from NZ Secondary School Football read: “It is with a very heavy heart and with great sadness that we inform our football community of the recent passing
of Malcolm Cowie.
“Malcolm Cowie was NZSS Boys Football’s inaugural Life Member. This award was in recognition of Malcolm’s exceptional contribution of more than 30 years to the provision of the best possible opportunities in football for secondary school students.
“Under Malcolm’s leadership and as a result of his vision, NZSS Football has achieved significant results both on and off the field.
“On the field, Malcolm has been instrumental in developing NZSS Football representative programs at Under 15 and Under 19 levels. This has included the organisation of a number of international tours to Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, Korea, China, Malaysia and Thailand.
“Malcolm’s positive attitude, enthusiasm and strong management have contributed to the success and growth we have seen in football at secondary school level. During his reign, the number of national tournaments has increased from four to six, and the number of teams participating annually from about 70 to 136.
“Our sincere condolences go to the family and his school community at Saint Kentigern College.
“Rest in peace Malcolm, you will be sorely missed.”