It is with great sadness that Raith Rovers Football Club learned of the passing of popular former player and member of the 1967 promotion winning team, Ian Lister, last Friday.
Ian was born and brought up in Kirkcaldy and was well known in School and Boys Brigade circles as an exceptionally talented young winger with a ferocious powerful shot. A self-confessed Raith supporter, it was while playing for Smeaton Boys Club that he gained Scottish International Youth caps and was taken on trial by Manchester United where another of his trial group was a young George Best.
However, it was Aberdeen who made him the offer to step into the senior ranks and he joined the Pittodrie Club in October 1963. Over the next three years he would make 23 first team appearances for the Dons before George Farm persuaded him to return home to Kirkcaldy in July 1966 and sign for his boyhood favourites Raith Rovers.
Ian made his Raith debut in a home friendly against Stirling Albion on 8th August 1966 and he scored his first goal for the club against Dumbarton in what would be a 3 – 2 victory at Boghead on 7th September.
With Morton assuming a sizeable and unassailable lead at the top of the Second Division, Raith were in a fight with Arbroath for the second promotion slot and went into the last day of the season knowing that a victory over Queen of the South would promote the club back to the top flight. Anything less would see Raith having to nervously look for Arbroath’s result at home to Brechin City.
Arbroath won 4 – 1 but even better, Rovers trounced Queen of the South, with Ian Lister grabbing the final goal in a 7 – 2 rout that saw Rovers edge out the Red Lichties by one point and claim a return to Scotland’s top flight. The Raith team that day was:-
Reid, Stein, McLean, Polland, Evans, Porterfield, Millar, Lister, Wallace, Gardner, Mackle.
Manager George Farm moved to Dunfermline Athletic in the summer of 1967, taking Pat Gardner with him for a sizeable fee. Meanwhile Lister continued where he left off by grabbing both Raith’s goals in a 2 – 0 League Cup win over Dumbarton.
Whilst Raith struggled to adapt defensively to the First Division, the form of Ian Lister was encouraging as he weighed in with a few goals, and supplied
many for Gordon Wallace. Such form attracted George Farm back to Stark’s Park in February 1968 to sign Lister for Dunfermline Athletic.
Originally signed as cover for Alex Edwards, Lister gained hero status by scoring the winning goal in the Scottish Cup Semi Final over St Johnstone, and then again by scoring a penalty in the 3 – 1 win over Hearts in the Final, where incidentally Pat Gardner got the other two goals.
Lister went on to become an integral part of the Pars side over the next two years, including appearances in the European Cup Winners’ Cup before moving to St Mirren in 1970. He became an instant hero at Love Street by scoring on his debut. Unfortunately he was to suffer relegation with the Buddies in 1971.
In the summer of 1971, Ian returned to his first love when Bill Baxter brought him back to Stark’s Park, making his debut in a 1 – 1 draw with Cowdenbeath in September. George Farm returned to Raith as manager in November 1971 to link up with Lister one more time.
Despite a good Scottish Cup run, in which Dunfermline Athletic were comprehensively beaten at Stark’s Park it was ultimately a disappointing season and when Farm cleared the decks at the end of the season, Ian was released, joining Berwick Rangers in the summer of 1972 where he spent two years before finishing his career in the Highland League with Inverness Caledonian where he settled and lived for the rest of his life.
In the years that followed Ian was a regular visitor back to Kirkcaldy and a “well kent” face around town. He was an active member of the Raith Rovers Former Players Association and has attended many Rovers games over recent years. He was also an ex-chairman of Inverness City where he campaigned vigorously for the local council to provide a new ground for the junior side.
It’s also a measure of the man that Ian donated the shirt he wore in the 1967 promotion winning game to the Former Players Association and has been used on a number of occasions. The shirt took pride of place on stage at the recent Hall Of Fame night, and was also worn by Laurie Ellis during the promotional shoot for his testimonial match.
It is intended that there will be a mark of respect at the match against Dunfermline on March 16th which the club feel would be appropriate given his legend and service to both clubs. Ian’s family will be in attendance and it is hoped some of his former colleagues from both sides will also be there to pay tribute to him.
Meanwhile, everyone at Raith Rovers sends their deepest condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.