An unsung hero from Renfrewshire has been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours List.

Alexander Blackburn McMenemy has been named as a recipient of The British Empire Medal (BEM) for his voluntary service to the Scottish Schools Football Association (SSFA) and to the Scottish Football Association (SFA).

The 77-year-old’s commitment over a span of more than 50 years to youth football, on this voluntary basis, has been described as “incomparable.”

The Kilbarchan resident, who was a PE teacher at St Cuthbert’s in Johnstone before becoming deputy head teacher at Renfrew High School from 1975 until 1998, has worked his way through the ranks, from representing Paisley and District schools in the early 1970s to holding a seat on the Scottish FA's Congress.

The Gazette: Kilbarchan man Alexander McMenemy, pictured with his wife Ethel, has been awarded the British Empire MedalKilbarchan man Alexander McMenemy, pictured with his wife Ethel, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (Image: Newsquest)

His career has seen an impressive array of accolades, including being named as honorary treasurer of the Scottish Schools Football Association (SSFA) in 1995, whilst his work made him a natural choice as the inaugural Chair of the Scottish FA's (SFA) West Region Committee in 2005.

Alexander told the Gazette: “I am obviously very honoured and quite delighted about the whole thing, but with the Scottish Schools, there are many members there who have been doing many years of schools football.

“I think the thing that maybe tipped it in my Honours list was that I ran our schools lottery with the help of my wife and family for 29 years from 1986 until 2015.”

The Gazette: AlexanderAlexander (Image: Newsquest)

Indeed, he demonstrated true entrepreneurial flair and innovation when he introduced the SSFA Lottery in 1986, and then promoted it nationwide for almost three decades.

During this time the lottery raised around £750,000 with half of the money going to the Scottish School's main accounts and half to the participating schools throughout Scotland.

The SSFA runs on a voluntary basis and receives no financial support from the parent body, the SFA.

The Gazette: Alexander's familyAlexander's family (Image: Newsquest)

As a charity and operating exclusively on a voluntary basis, finding sponsors and raising funds has therefore been a key achievement during his tenure.

Through his determination, the SSFA has enjoyed sponsorship over the years from the likes of ESSO and Bank of Scotland.

Thanks to the nurturing of these relationships, the SSFA has managed to continue to operate through challenging economic times.

The Gazette:

His sustained contribution has been instrumental in promoting the sport across the country and extending its reach beyond the traditional male environment.

In practice, his service has involved attending trials, training, organising national and international fixtures, heading delegations, finding sponsors, liaising with local schools across the country and ensuring congruence with the parent body of the SFA to name but a few.

To ensure that Scottish Schools Football Association national teams get the chance to play at Schools International level, he also works for free with Schools Association Football International Board (SAFIB), for which he has also served as chair.

The Gazette:

“My wife’s name is Ethel and she is the one I would say deserves the most credit for putting up with all these years of schools football,” added Alexander who has been married for 54 years and has two children, Varry and Alan, and one grandchild Arwen.

“She has been incredible, a great assistance to me. It’s only now you get to my age that you get to realise how perhaps selfish you are with schools football and with your hobby and she’s been my rock.”