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Cairns played left back alongside Westminster Royals teammate Dave Stothard in 3 of 4 qualifying matches Canada played for the 1958 FIFA World Cup. Mexico qualified from the region, having defeated the Canadians twice soundly, 3-0 and 2-0.
Cairns played 9 seasons with the Royals in the Pacific Coast Soccer League - 1951 through 1960. He was their captain in '53 when they won the North American Club Championship, defeating the Chicago Falcons. He was discovered by Vancouver St. Andrews playing in the Central Fraser Valley near Abbotsford and played with them for the 1947 season when they won the Dominion Championship. Cairns played '48 with Westminster, '49 with Vancouver City, and '50 with St. Andrews.
In later years Cairns worked as a volunteer in the Crime Prevention Office of the New Westminster Police Office. He was inducted into the Ontario Soccer Association's Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame as a Player in 2001.
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