22 October 1929 – 5 January 2024
The club was deeply saddened this week to hear of the passing of one of the club’s great volunteers and characters, Bill Gilby. If you ever enjoyed the pleasure of matchday hospitality at East End Park, or went to a major event in the club calendar between the 1980s and the 2000s, then you are sure to have met this wonderful character. Bill’s presence at the door at East End Park or any other venue, made you feel as if you were entering a five-star hotel. Impeccably dressed, polite and well-mannered, Bill made everyone feel important when they walked through the door. His was also the first voice you heard when an event was being opened.
Bill Gilby was a club steward for almost thirty years, and a toastmaster extraordinaire, and his loyalty and professionalism was rewarded when he was admitted to the Dunfermline Athletic Hall of Fame on 27th September 2007, alongside none other than Sir Alex Ferguson, and Andy Stevenson.
Bill was born at Westminster Hospital, London on 22nd October 1929, the oldest child of nine (six younger brothers, two younger sisters!). His Dad ran a fruit & veg stall. In 1939, he was evacuated from London at the start of the war as a child, but only for a couple of months. On returning, Bill supported Chelsea and used to be a regular at Stamford Bridge, watching many favourites who were ‘guest’ players during the war years, such as Tommy Walker and Stanley Matthews. He took one of his younger brothers to see Moscow Dynamo in 1945
Bill left school aged fourteen to work for a firm making drawing office instruments, and he became a civil defence messenger for the last 18 months of the war. At the age of 18 Bill was called up for National Service and this is where the Fife connection was made. He was based in Exeter, Woolwich and then in Fife. In 1950 he joined Fife Police and in a lengthy career he was stationed in Cupar, Cardenden, Windygates, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, rising to the rank of Inspector before retiring in 1978. He met Nan McDonald from Markinch at The Burma in Kirkcaldy, and they married in 1953, perhaps not realising the significance of marrying into a Raith Rovers family.
While he was in the Police however, Bill undertook football duty at all Fife senior grounds – Bayview, Central Park, Stark’s Park and for the last seven years at East End Park. And it was that which was to later influence him. After retiring, Bill had a three-year spell as Security Manager with Marconi, before becoming Deputy Council Officer (then a year later Council Officer) with Dunfermline District Council from 1981 to 1993.
It was during this period that Bill learned the ‘tricks of his trade’ and he became Scottish President of the Guild of Mace Bearers. He acted as Toastmaster at various civic receptions, as he did for Dunfermline Athletic on many occasions. He also led at a number of civic events, such as the Hat and Ribbon race in Inverkeithing.
In more recent years, Nan passed away in 2014, Bill’s health deteriorated but he enjoyed great support from his family, especially Fiona, Grant, Faye and Shona. Three years ago he moved to Benarty View Care Home in Kelty where where he was well looked after and reminders of his love of the Pars were evident with his signed Pars strip on the wall of his room. As recently as last week, he stayed up and had a dram to see the New Year in. Sadly he contracted flu and a chest infection, and passed away on Friday 5th January surrounded by his family.
Bill Gilby was a one-off, and the club were fortunate to have someone of his character and ability to bring a warm welcome to all those that came to East End Park. The club’s sincere condolences and thoughts are with Bill’s family – son Bill and daughter Fiona, grandchildren Graham, Ross, Faye and Shona, and great-granddaughter Frankie.
- Monday 5 February at 10.45 am
- Dunfermline Crematorium, Masterton Road, Dunfermline, Fife, KY11 8QR
- Immediate family flowers only please
After the service you will be very welcome to join the family for light refreshments at the Garvock House Hotel, St John’s Drive, Dunfermline, Fife, KY12 7TU
If you plan to attend, to assist with the catering, it would be helpful to know by Tuesday 30 January. Please contact [email protected] to inform of any special dietary requirements.