Ian ‘Pea’ Oliver - a legend in his own lifetime with Rangers
Tributes poured in last week following the death of Berwick Rangers’ ‘legend’ Ian ‘Pea’ Oliver
‘Pea,’ who was a former player, coach, physio, caretaker manager, groundsman, and most recently kit-man, died on Thursday.
And after a 50 year-plus association with the club tributes flooded in from former players, managers and fans.
Chairman Len Eyre said: “Berwick Rangers was a big part of ‘Pea’s’ life. He will be a huge miss to everyone at the Club and also in Scottish Football as no matter where the Club was playing he was held in high regard he never forgot a face or a name.
“‘Pea,’ over the years, must have racked up thousands of miles in the team bus for away matches. Accompanying him on the bus was always an adventure; he always had stories to tell no matter where Berwick Rangers were playing.
“On behalf of all at Berwick Rangers we send our condolences to his family and are thinking of them all at this sad time.”
Club secretary Dennis McCleary, who worked alongside ‘Pea’ for in excess of 40 years, said: “It will be hard walking into Shielfield and not seeing Pea! I have worked with him for nearly half a century and we have had some great times, two Championships included and obviously some not so good days. Some great laughs too.
“What a character, loved all over Scottish Football and in with the fittings at Shielfield. We were all devastated to hear the shock news of his passing and my thoughts go out to Muriel, Brian, Neil, Karen and all the family at this time.”
Manager Johnny Harvey said: “I was shocked and devastated to hear the news.
“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. 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.”
Former managers Robbie Horn, John Coughlin and Colin Cameron also all paid tribute to Oliver.
Horn 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.”
Cameron 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.
Captain Robert Wilson said: “Devastated at the news. Saturdays won’t be the same without him. An absolute legend, always had a smile on his face.”
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.”
Prior to Saturday’s home game against Stirling Albion, players, officials and directors from both clubs joined fans in a minute’s applause to remember a man who was part of the DNA at Shielfield .