Former Largs Thistle President Douglas Bennie has passed away in his early 70s, and will be remembered for helping to steer the club to a highly successful era between 2007 and 2012.

During his reign, the club confounded all expectations to reach the Scottish Junior Cup final in 2010, finishing fifth in the Premier League, and also won the First Division Championship in 2009.

The club also reached the semi finals of the Scottish Cup in 2012, and were a penalty kick away from reaching the West of Scotland Cup final in 2010.

Starting off in mid-table in the first division, the club grew, with Mr Bennie instrumental in obtaining shirt sponsorship from Hunterston/EDF Energy which still exists to this day.

He was also involved in talks with Largs Euromillionaires winner Colin Weir to help bring about the £700,000 astroturf football pitch which is now in use every week of the year in all weathers.

Douglas was a retired commercial director in civil engineering, and also a member of the Largs Blooming Lovely group to help beautify the town and also a strong supporter of Scottish mental health charity.

A charismatic character, Douglas brought business order to the club, with a determined outlook to succeed, and a straight-talking style, with the club was amassing crowds of over 1000 to Barrfields on Scottish Cup afternoons in the quarter and semis in 2010.

Over 3000 travelled to Rugby Park for the Scottish Cup Final which Largs lost 1-0 to Linlithgow Rose.

Douglas's hard working committee carried out various fundraisers to keep the club pushing on all league and cup fronts from supermarket bagpacks to Viking Festival tombolas.

When first interviewed upon taking up the position as President, Douglas told the 'News': “We don’t expect to win every game and every competition but we do expect to be extremely competitive with the ultimate goal of putting Largs Thistle in the Premiership which is where we believe Largs Thistle should be, and we also feel that is what the people of Largs deserve because they have been extremely supportive in the past and we hope that will continue and increase in future.”

Bringing a strong work ethic, Douglas commonly described running the club as similar to running a small business.

And not long after becoming President, Douglas took a strong stance against racist chants against one the club's own players James Marks from an away support at Barrfields in 2007, taking the matter to the Scottish Junior Football authority which resulted in a £500 good behaviour bond warning being issued by the SJFA to the opposing club.

Former Thistle manager Sandy MacLean said: "Douglas was a larger than life character and a real figurehead of the club.

"He brought a real sense of business function to what we were doing and I mean that from the committee down to myself and through the players and allowed us to get on with what we were doing, and he structured it.

"He made everyone aware of what task they were supposed to be doing and did it well.

"From my own perspective, signing up a player or having to let a player go, he was very supportive.

"I remember having a conversation with him post Scottish Cup Final and he said that when he came in he had a five year business plan, but we had already achieved it.

"He was always very complimentary of the group of players, and allowed us to get on with what we were doing, and was completely and utterly supportive in everything we did.

"On the way to the Scottish Cup final, we had beaten the East Champions, the West Champions and Clydebank who were the beaten finalists the year before."

Margaret Brown, who took over the reigns as President in 2012 for two seasons, and worked as a fundraiser for the club during Douglas's time in charge, said: "He worked tirelessly for the Largs Thistle cause.

"Douglas was a breath of fresh air at Largs Thistle when he arrived, and called a spade a spade. He got all the committee working hard in their various position, He was a very generous and caring person, and had a very commanding presence."

"He was very high up in civil engineering in his profession and worked at home and abroad, and he brought his hard working ethic to Largs Thistle."

Michael McGowan, who was a student committee member, said: "He was a brilliant man. Douglas transformed the club during his time here and we enjoyed some really successful times."

Largs Thistle FC are marking Douglas's passing before a forthcoming match.