THANKS to our support of the RAF Benevolent Fund as part of our Armed Forces Partnership, the Rangers Foundation has been able to help service men and women in need across the country.
One of these veterans, who has links to the history of Rangers, sadly passed away this week and everyone at the Foundation would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Alex McClintock.
Alex had a unique place in the history of Rangers, having been instrumental in the careers of two of the Club’s most famous sons – Walter Smith and Ally McCoist. The fact that we have been able to help the RAF Benevolent Fund support veterans like Alex is thanks to the amazing support of our fans who make projects like this possible.
Alexander McClintock kick-started the career of Walter Smith, recognising his skills as a natural leader, and nurtured the raw talent of Ally McCoist before bringing him to the attention of Rangers.
However, although Alex was passionate about football and Rangers, his first love was the Royal Air Force. As a young Glasgow lad he signed up to join the RAF in 1939, at the outbreak of Second World War.
A trained mechanic, Alex completed RAF training at Blackpool, where he met his wife-to-be, Joyce. He was sent to North Africa to work as a Lancaster aircraft technician and it was there his love of football was first kindled as he undertook training to become a football referee.
After de-mobbing in 1945, Alex, now 26, continued to referee back in his home town of Glasgow. A little later, in the mid-1960s, he set up a football club called ‘Bishopbriggs Amateurs’ where he met Walter Smith who captained the side.
Alex’s daughter Sandra said: “Dad always said he was good in charge of people. Walter was a competent player but what he recognised in him was that he was a born leader.”
The team became a family affair with Sandra’s sister Maureen taking the oranges on during half time and her mother doing all the laundry for the players, one of whom became Maureen’s husband of 44 years, Iain.
Alex continued his hobby into the 1970s, becoming a successful talent scout and football reporter on Scottish TV. It was during this time he discovered legendary striker Ally McCoist.
Immediately spotting his raw talent, Alex spoke to Ally’s mother Jessie and persuaded her to allow him to play for St Johnstone and then Sunderland before signing for Rangers.
When Alex finally retired in his 70s, he looked back with pride on a lifetime spent doing what he loved, first serving with the RAF and then supporting the game he loved in many different ways. This dedication was recognised in 2000 when, aged 81, Alex was made an MBE for services to youth sport – an application which was supported by both Ally and Walter.
His daughter Sandra said: “He was just thrilled, absolutely thrilled at being recognised and at meeting the Queen who presented him with his MBE.”
Alex lived independently for some years until a diagnosis of diverticular disease meant he needed more support as he began to struggle with the demands of taking regular medication.
When Alex’s family needed help to keep him in the nursing home he had lived in for more than five years, they turned to the RAF Benevolent Fund for assistance.
Alex’s loyal service to the RAF meant he, like many other RAF veterans and their families, was eligible for help from the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Sandra explained: “Dad’s savings had all been spent and there was a serious threat he could be moved out of there. He was quite comfortable there and the Fund’s help meant he could stay. He certainly would not have coped with being moved.
“The Fund’s help has been amazing. I do not know how we would have been able to afford to keep him there without it.
“We are all very grateful for the RAF Benevolent Fund. It is such a generous thing to do. It was a lifesaver.
“Dad was very proud of his RAF career – he married in his uniform and has his medals mounted on the wall. He loved the camaraderie of the RAF.
“He was proud that he was getting recognition for his wartime service. He liked to know that the RAF family he was very loyal to was helping him in this way.”
Sadly Alex passed away on Saturday, February 6, rather fittingly while watching his beloved Rangers play Kilmarnock in the Scottish Cup.
Sandra said: “The RAF Benevolent Fund allowed my dad to spend the last year of his life in the place he considered to be his home and his family will be forever thankful for their help.”
The Rangers Charity Foundation is delighted to help the RAF Benevolent Fund support veterans like Alex via our Armed Forces Partnership this season, which is donating £25,000 to four services-related charities. You can find out more about the partnership by clicking HERE.