PARS legendary goalkeeper and chairman of the ex-players association, Dr Hugh Whyte, died on Monday at the age of 54.

The club, and the wider community, was plunged into mourning after news broke that he had lost his three year battle with myeloma - a cancer that affects bone marrow.

Hugh, a father-of-two who stayed in Garvock Hill with his wife, Helen, was born in Kilmarnock in July 1955 where his parents owned a dairy.

He joined the Pars in May 1976 from Hibs and, although he remained part-time throughout, went on to make more than 360 appearances, a club record for a goalkeeper.

In his 11 years at the club - combining his studies at Edinburgh University and his job as a GP with playing - he enjoyed over 100 shut-outs and helped the club win promotion in 1979 and 1986.

After retiring from the game in May 1987, Hugh became club doctor and last year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

He was also a keen golfer and member at Dunfermline Golf Club.

Dr Bobby Robertson, a friend, former team-mate and current club doctor, said, "It was at our house when he first complained of back pain about three-and-a- half years ago and he was diagnosed shortly after.

"He's been on various forms of chemotherapy and treatment since then.

"I work in this business and see people dying all the time but he was absolutely unbelievable as he never, ever moaned.

"He showed such strength and fortitude." He continued, "It was quite unusual to have two medical students at the club and Hugh was a few years ahead of me.

"When I signed he barged into the dressing room, shouted 'Where's the medical student?', put his arms round me and said, 'You must be off your head!' "We hit it off right away.

"It's tough combining medical studies with the demands of playing but he had done it before and was an absolute inspiration to me, a gem of a guy.

"I was always skint and Hughie was always fairly well-to-do and he always had a car.

"I used to walk round to his house after lectures, he would feed me, take me to training, bring me back and buy me a pint!

"He was always a guy I would pick up the phone and speak to when I had a crisis or trouble with my work. Hughie was like a brother to me." Pars director of football, Jim Leishman, said, "Hugh was my first goalkeeper at the club when I became manager and he was magnificent for me.

"I always remember the performance he gave when we played Rangers at Ibrox and we were nine minutes away from beating them.

"He had over 10 great years at the club, he got a testimonial and was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year which I know made Hugh and his family very proud.

"All our thoughts are with them at this time." Hugh had been invited to an event at the Alhambra on Friday, where former team-mates and fans gathered to celebrate Pars "rollercoaster" years in the 1980s, but he was ill and could not attend.

Former Pars team-mate and friend, Bonar Mercer, said, "He had been seriously ill for some time but we played it down on Friday, as Hugh did himself.

"He didn't tell people how bad he was, Hugh was always incredibly positive, but it was still a surprise when we heard the news.

"In football you normally become really friendly with the people you travel with but apart from that he was a nice guy, the kind of guy everyone liked.

"We always stayed close after football - I'm his daughter Heather's godparent and Bobby is godparent to his son Graham." He continued, "We were looking through Bobby's scrapbook for his induction into the Hall of Fame on Saturday - Hugh and I were supposed to do a speech together but he was too ill - and we started looking at Hugh's stats too.

"Compared to other good goalies of the time, he had far more shut-outs so it wasn't just the appearances that got him into the Hall of Fame.

"As anyone who saw him will confirm, he was a very good goalkeeper too." Dr Robertson added, "He started as a GP but he was very much a mover for political change and was instrumental in a lot of the changes in our profession in the 1980s and 1990s.

"He had a considerable intellect and lots of talents but what defined him is how much of a people person he was.

"He achieved a lot in football and in his career, but a lot of people do that, but what made him stand out is just what a fantastic, humble, decent and approachable guy he was.

"That's what I will remember." The funeral arrangements were still to be finalised at the time of going to press.