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Former Highland League footballer and Culloden Academy teacher Derek Dewar dies aged 69

By Staff Reporter

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Derek Dewar (back row, far right) with his Caley team-mates.
Derek Dewar (back row, far right) with his Caley team-mates.

A Highland League player who played in two history-making sides has died at the age of 69 after a long illness.

Derek Dewar was a goal scorer when Brora Rangers won the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North) for the first time in their history in 1979.

Four years later he was a member of the “Invincible” Caledonian side that won the Highland League title by completing the 30-game programme undefeated.

He won nine medals with Caledonian, including three consecutive league and Qualifying Cup wins from 1981-82.

A physical education teacher for many years at Culloden Academy, Derek was brought up in Killiecrankie and attended Pitlochry High School and Breadalbane Academy.

He began his football career playing in his native Perth-shire with Grandtully Vale, Vale of Atholl and Bankfoot Athletic, where his strike partner was Paul Sturrock, who went on to play for Dundee United and Scotland.

Derek’s performances were attracting attention and he was snapped up by Arbroath, then a top tier side managed by Albert Henderson.

Unluckily for Derek, he managed just three games at Gayfield as he suffered the double blow of contracting pneumonia and pleurisy and returned to Bankfoot on his recovery.

After a further season at Bankfoot, Derek moved to attend Jordanhill Training College, Glasgow, in pursuit of his qualification to become a PE teacher. During his time there he was honoured with selection for the Scottish Colleges team.

Derek’s first teaching job was in Thurso and he played for Thurso Academicals and Wick Academy before being lured away to play for Brora Rangers in March 1978.

In the season 1978-79, Brora qualified for the Scottish Cup for only the second time in their history by reaching the semi-finals of the Qualifying Cup. Derek scored a terrific hat-trick in a 3-0 replay win at Buckie Thistle to earn Brora a place in the final, where Peterhead were waiting.

Derek also played a key role in the final. In the initial game at Grant Street Park, Inverness, he headed Brora into an early lead but Peterhead equalised in the second half to force a replay.

The following week Brora lifted the trophy with an emphatic 5-0 win, with Derek scoring the fourth. Great celebrations were to follow. To cap a great season, Brora finished the league in their highest position, third.

Derek Dewar (left) in an aerial duel with John Sievwright of Peterhead.
Derek Dewar (left) in an aerial duel with John Sievwright of Peterhead.

Derek’s work took him to Culloden Academy in Inverness and it proved a great move for him when Caledonian asked him to sign. Much better was to follow in 1981/82 when Caley completed the treble, winning the league, Qualifying Cup and the North of Scotland Cup.

And it could not get better than the achievement in 1982-83 of winning the Highland League undefeated, with 23 wins and 7 draws. This was the first time since 1914 that this had been achieved and it helped Caley win the Rothman’s Scottish Non-League Team of the Year award for a second year running. The Inverness Cup and the Qualifying Cup were also won that season with Derek playing a prominent role.

In season 1983-84, Caley completed a hat-trick of league and Qualifying Cup successes as well as winning the North of Scotland Cup. Derek won his final medal in 1984/85 when Caley won the Inverness Cup.

He was to go on to play for Rothes, with whom he was interim boss for a short spell, Ross County and Clachnacuddin before returning to Telford Street Park as player/coach of the Caley 2nd XI playing in the North Caledonian League.

There was plenty of football left in Derek and he saw out his career making 234 appearances for Inverness welfare/amateur side, Bankers FC, many as skipper.

A fit and energetic player, Derek could play in defence, midfield and attack with equal effect and proved a great team mate with all the teams he played for over a 20-year career.

He was married to Fiona and has two daughters, Lynsey and Ellen, and a son, Colin, and four grandchildren, Leah, Emily, Ivy and Shaun.

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