Current Berwick Rangers boss Johnny Harvey has led tributes to long-serving club kitman Ian ‘Pea’ Oliver, who sadly passed away on Thursday.
‘Pea’ served the club for more than 50 years in various roles; most recently as kitman
but also in the past as a player, physio, coach, acting manager and groundsman.
“I was shocked and devastated to hear the news,” said Harvey. “For all I’ve only been at the club a short time as manager, he was 100% supportive of me and my coaching staff from the moment we came in and was right behind the players every week.
“His commitment to the club was second to none. Nothing was ever too much trouble for him and he made everybody feel good about themselves. He’s going to be a big, big miss.
“Right now, we’re all feeling a wee bit down; I’d be lying if I said we weren’t when we all met up at training. It hurts us that in the last few months of his involvement with Berwick Rangers, we’ve let him down with some of our results and performances.
“It’s up to us now to make amends for him. That’s not trying to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves but for people like ‘Pea’ and Dennis [McCleary], the club means everything to them – and we need to go out and play on a Saturday likes it means everything to us.”
Harvey’s sentiments about ‘Pea’ were echoed by the three managers who directly preceded him: Robbie Horn, John Coughlin and Colin Cameron.
Horn, who played for the ‘Gers from 2004 to 2010 and managed the club for 14 months from August 2017 to September 2018, said: “It’s incredibly sad news. ‘Pea’ was a club legend and he will be a huge loss.
“He was always there for me and had the unbelievable ability to pick you up when you were down – and half the time he didn’t know he was doing it. He may be gone but he will certainly never be forgotten.”
Coughlin, who has had two stints as manager, which included guiding the club to the 2006/07 Scottish Third Division title – added: “I would like to pay tribute to a man who through his warmth and humour became a friend who will be sadly missed.
“I’ve known ‘Pea’ for more than 20 years since signing for Berwick Rangers as a player. He was there for me then and continued to help me in any way he could through two spells as a manager at the club we both loved.
“He was an incredibly hard-working member of the Berwick Rangers family who always had the gift of making people smile, regardless of the situation.
“It’s hard to quantify what he did for the countless players, staff and supporters over his many years of service. I have lost a true and loyal friend and he will never be forgotten.”
While Cameron, who managed the ‘Gers from January 2014 until October 2015, said: “Pea was a fantastic character who made everyone who joined the club feel welcome.
“He couldn’t do enough for you and was always in good spirits. I loved the banter that we had together and he will be sadly missed.”
On social media, dozens of players past and present also paid tribute.
Kevin Haynes said: “Such sad news. What a gentleman Pea was. An absolute credit to his family and to the football club. RIP my pal.”
Darren Smith added: “One of the best guys I’ve ever met in football. Not just the best kitman in the world; groundsman, you name it. Privileged to have spent so many years with him and he was Berwick Rangers through and through.”
Gary O’Connor said: “So sad. An absolute legend who will be such a massive loss. I’ve got nothing but fantastic memories with Pea and my thoughts are with Muriel and all the family.”
The club plans to honour ‘Pea’ before Saturday’s home match against Stirling Albion and will issue more details in due course.
By Martin Inglis