Initially invited for a trial for Aberdeen "A" against Celtic "A" at Pittodrie in September 1955, the young Dons won 2-1 and Ken gave such an outstanding performance that the recommendation was to sign him immediately. However, it was Manager Dave Shaw that had the final say and he was at Tynecastle with the senior team. A telephone call to the Manager saw him recommend that Ken and Mr Peter Watson, a member of the Newtongrange Committee go to a local hotel and await his return. Shaw reached the hotel late on the Saturday night and after a short interview Ken agreed to sign for Aberdeen. He had just completed his National Service and was working as a stock taker in an Edinburgh warehouse at the time.
His first team debut came in a 2-2 draw away to Queen of the South in January 1956. With Alec Young out injured and Archie Glen moving to centre half, Ken was given his debut at left half, a position that he seemed well suited to. From all accounts, Ken made an accomplished debut and was described as the 'find' of the game and that he made the most 'impressive debut' playing with the 'self-possession of a veteran'. His initial performances were good enough to keep him in the side for a run of nine straight appearances only ending when Young returned to full fitness.
An industrious player, Ken was strong in the tackle and showed himself to be clever and intelligent in attack. He was drafted back into the side in February 1957 when Harry Yorston was out with an elbow injury and kept his place in the starting line-up until the end of the season.
Retaining his place for the start of the 1957-58 season Ken was unlucky to lose his place to John Ward early that season because of a bought of flu, but returned to the starting line-up in November. Ken's biggest flaw however was his lack of consistency, as local journalist Norman MacDonald commented at the time if only Ken could guarantee to play with the same concentration and intelligence in every game, he would easily hold down a regular first team place.
Frustrated by the lack of opportunities Ken requested a transfer at the start of the 1958-59 season. However, a mounting injury crisis plus a lack of experienced players meant the request was turned down. Despite this he would make only six appearances that season but one of them was in the Scottish Cup Final where he collected a runners-up medal in the Dons 3-1 loss to St Mirren.
The 1959-60 season saw him in and out of the team but for the 1960-61 season he was a regular starter in both the centre and inside forward positions. This saw Ken become the Dons top scorer that season with 23 goals in 36 appearances, including four against Dunfermline Athletic in a 6-2 win at East End Park on Hogmanay 1960. He was moved to outside right for the start of the 1961-62 season and then to inside forward but despite his goalscoring feats of the previous season Ken never looked comfortable in any forward position and soon lost confidence.
Ken should have been rested but he continued to play in the forward positions and looking more uncomfortable with each game. This made him an easy target for certain sections of the crowd to vent their fury against, even though it was more based on Aberdeen's poor performances it was still a miserable experience for the player.
Started his final season at the club at right half before losing his place to George Kinnell early in the season and struggled from then on to make an impact with his best run of six consecutive games coming at the end of the season.
In June 1963 he remained unsigned and departed for Third Lanark before the end of the month. Ken would go on to have short spells at St Johnstone and Airdrie before emigrating to South Africa. There he would continue his football career both playing and coaching at various clubs around the country, dying there in September 2022.
Author: Derek Giles
Suffered a long term spell out of the team in 1957 due to a slow-healing wrist break.
"The Dons' Mr Versatile". Originally a wing half, he has played in several positions including outside right. Now an inside forward, he has shown a flair for scoring goals and is the Dons' top scorer with 13 League goals this season. Tall and forceful.
Source: Blackpool programme, 28th January 1961
Manager of Boksburg and Benoni United (South Africa).