Alan McRae has described receiving his OBE from royalty at Windsor Castle as more nerve-wracking than a penalty shoot-out.
The former Scottish FA president and long-serving Cove Rangers administrator was recognised by the Queen for his lifetime dedicated to football – which continues to this day.
During his time he has helped with searches for the next Scotland manager and endured elation and heartbreak with Cove Rangers.
However, he says he was more nervous waiting to receive his OBE medal from Princess Anne than anything he experienced in the game.
Tributes to family and football volunteers
Alan McRae described receiving his OBE from Princess Anne as a “great experience” – but was quick to stress it was only due to support from his family and others involved in football.
He started his journey as a football administrator as secretary of Cove Rangers in 1981 and has now spent 30 years with the SFA serving on various different committees.
And he revealed that during the Windsor Castle ceremony he chatted football with Princess Anne, who is patron of the Scottish Rugby Union.
Mr McRae said: “We chatted for ages about football and the sad death of Walter Smith.
“She was up in the north-east for a few days recently as well so we talked about that too.
“It was fun, a great experience, but it’s only because of the help from the people involved in the game and volunteers over the years.
“It was quite humbling when you’re there and it’s actually happening with everyone else who is also being honoured. I was nervous, it was worse than any penalty shootout.”
Alan McRae on THAT cup draw with Rod Stewart
Alan McRae was a bystander during one of the most infamous and celebrated Scottish Cup draws in recent times.
While SFA president he was responsible for maintaining order while singer Sir Rod Stewart pulled balls from the hat on live TV in 2017.
And the draw became a social media hit as the big Celtic fan bellowed the names of the teams.
Mr McRae confessed to being uncomfortable at the time – before revelling in it when he watched it himself.
He said: “We were in a small room doing the draw live. There were too many people in there and of course Rod said ‘I’m going to make this a special draw.’
“At the time I thought ‘What are you on about?’ and when it was actually happening all I was thinking was ‘Oh my god’ and ‘What is he doing?’
“When I get home and actually saw the draw though I thought it was brilliant – I couldn’t stop laughing.”
Phenomenal rise of Cove Rangers
When Mr McRae joined Cove Rangers as secretary in 1981 the team was in the amateur ranks.
During his time with the club he helped spearhead its acceptance into the Highland League in 1986, where they won seven championships, before promotion to the national leagues in 2019.
His contribution to the club’s success led to him being named honorary president in 2019.
He said: “It’s been a success story all the way. The new ground has been really key to the progression of the club.
“We had good times at Allan Park and it served us well but the move was really key to our progression. It’s now happened and hopefully it can continue.
“I’ve come right through from the grassroots and I’ve spent 30 years with the SFA now, and I’m still there on a couple of the smaller boards.”