Johnny Adair: “I know there’s no point to it, but you can’t help but think...what if? What if he had only done this? And what if he had only done that?”
Based in Belfast’s Shankill Road area, McCrory had been a leading member of Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair’s notorious ‘C’ Coy.
It was without doubt, the foremost terror unit of the pro-union Ulster Freedom Fighters.
And police estimate that in the run-up to the paramilitary ceasefires in the 1990s, Adair’s ‘C’ Coy had been responsible for 57 killings.
A 57 year-old father of two, Sam McCrory died two weeks ago, after sustaining serious injuries following an accidental fall.
It is understood he passed away five hours later, after suffering a heart attack in Kilmarnock’s Crosshouse Hospital, where he was undergoing treatment.
McCrory was within sight of his 4th floor apartment home in the Kincaidston, district of Ayr, when he lost his footing and plunged backwards down a steep flight of concrete stairs.
As he prepared for the funeral of his close friend on Thursday, Johnny Adair spoke of how McCrory’s death hit him like a body blow.
“It’s still very hard to take it all in. Sam and I have known each other since we were at Primary School.” he said.
“And since we’ve been in Scotland - although we didn’t see each other every day - we were in touch every day by phone. We were close friends.
“I’ve been helping clear out his flat and that meant I had to pass the spot where he fell. Three times I just stood and stared at it. Sam was almost home when it happened.
“He literally could see his front door, but then lost his footing and fell. The staircase is really steep and the steps are rock-hard concrete with no soft covering. And of course, Sam was a big man.
“I know there’s no point to it, but you can’t help but think...what if? What if he had only done this? And what if he had only done that?”
Johnny Adair said he expects a large turnout for Sam McCrory’s funeral on Thursday, with many mourners travelling from Northern Ireland.
“We know a lot of people are coming over from Belfast. But Sam had also made many friends from right across the board in Scotland.” said Johnny Adair.
And he added: “Sam was a very popular person and religion meant nothing to him.”
During the early 1990s, Sam McCrory was a gunman in the UFF’s notorious ‘C’ Coy, under the command of his close friend Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair.
He was jailed for 16 years when he was convicted of conspiring to murder top IRA men Brian Joseph Gillen and Martin ‘Duckser’ Lynch, in a house at Riverdale in the heart of nationalist west Belfast.
But shortly after the UFF hit team set out on the double murder mission, they were lured into a carefully planned RUC/British Army sting operation.
A hail of automatic gunfire hit their car seconds when it stopped at Finaghy Railway Bridge.
Seated in the rear seat with a CZ assault rifle across his lap, McCrory remained motionless as 35 high calibre bullets whizzed through the vehicle without hitting him.
He later said: “There’s a lot of talk about collusion. Well, if that was collusion, I wouldn’t like to see what would have happened if they didn’t like me!”
After his release from prison, Sam McCrory settled in Scotland. He had come out as openly gay and moved to the west coast to be with his partner.
Three years ago, a dissident republican gang targeted McCrory and Adair for murder after spotting them visiting a friend serving a prison sentence near Glasgow.
But would-be killers were caught in an undercover MI5 operation.
Sam McCrory’s funeral will take place at Masonhill Crematorium in Ayr, on Thursday at 11.00am.