A FORMER SPL referee turned Southside lollipop man has been awarded for his service to the profession.

Alex McGunnigle started his career as a referee in the 1960s and went on to work at some of the highest profile top tier games in Scottish football history including the Scottish Cup Fourth Round game between Kilmarnock and Celtic in 1978.

After hanging up his whistle at the age of 50, he took up a post as a school lollipop man, where he remained for 25 years.

The 83-year-old from Cathcart is now set to be honoured for his tenure as the recipient of a Long Service Award from employer Cordia.

Alex’s career allowed him to travel around the world and meet many of the era’s most famous footballers of the time including George Best, Kenny Dalgaish, Bobby Murdoch and Davie Cooper.

During his time with the SPL, he also worked as a bricklayer to trade and would referee at night after his shift had ended.

Alex was one of the three referees from Scotland who were invited to the Arab Emirates to take part in the United Arab of Emirates League where they spent six weeks on the pitch in scorching heat.

For his hard work, Alex received a gold medal and watch.

His last professional fixture was between Morton and Alloa in 1984 but Alex had no plans to retire.

He has since become a key figure in the Southside area of Glasgow and covers three schools - Our Lady of the Annunciation Primary School, Merrylee Primary and Holyrood Secondary.

As well as receiving his award, he will be celebrating his 61st wedding anniversary to his wife Anna, mother to his three daughters - Yvonne, Janice and Irene (who sadly passed away aged 59).

Ahead of receiving his award, he said: “I really enjoy my job as a school crossing patroller – it’s highly rewarding and I’ve become a well-known face in the local community.

“I’ve been manning crossings for over 25 years so it’s become a big part of my life. I’ll always be a big football fan but this is something a bit different to keep me busy.”

Julia McCreadie, Cordia (Services) LLP’s Head of Encore and Facilities Management said: “We pride ourselves on the fact that we have so many long-term employees and would like to thank Mr McGunnigle for all his hard work and commitment over the last 25 years.

“Being a school crossing patroller is a rewarding and enjoyable career path. It continues to play a vital role in the community by keeping children safe on their way to school.”