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BLETHER: Ex-Lochee United coach on sharing bench with Johan Cruyff and how Bill Shankly came close to buying history maker Dave McNicoll

Johan Cruyff.
Johan Cruyff.

Davie Martin, in addition to being mine host of The Sporting Lounge in Lochee, Dundee, is also well known in local football circles.

Davie has been involved in all grades of football, from boys to junior to senior.

In a recent conversation with me, he relayed a few tales of his time in the game.

One such story was the time he shared a bench with the legendary Johan Cruyff.

Trip to the Netherlands

Davie explained how it all came about: “I was a coach with Dryburgh Athletic Boys Club in Dundee and we had arranged an end-of-season trip to Holland, and taking in a PSV Eindhoven game.

“We fundraised for quite a few months, but each player and official still had to pay a substantial amount to go.

“Unfortunately, a few weeks prior to going, I lost my job, so pulled out of the trip.”

Soon after, Davie’s luck changed, as he continued: “Just before Dryburgh were due to fly out, I was fortunate to win a good amount at the bookies.

Johan Cruyff.
Johan Cruyff.

“My place with the official party was already taken, so I made my own way over.

“I didn’t get a ticket for the PSV game, who were entertaining Ajax.”

Those of us who know Davie well will know that would be a minor inconvenience, but not insurmountable!

‘Nobody from Ajax asked who I was’

And Davie confirmed that, as he went on: “I just decided to bluff getting in the players entrance.

“At the time, I had long blonde hair and was wearing a long green raincoat.

“I wasn’t challenged and walked right in.

“I found myself on the track and sat down on the end of a long bench, which was to be used by Ajax coaches and substitutes.

“During the game, nobody from Ajax asked who I was.

Davie Martin.
Davie Martin.

“Even at half-time, I just walked around the track a few times.

“I saw the Dryburgh party, and they laughed as they sang: ‘There’s only one Dave Martin!’”

Davie – who had stints as manager of Dundee junior sides Lochee United, North End and Lochee Harp – continued: “Johan Cruyff was back with Ajax for a second spell and was playing in a sweeper role.

“With 20 minutes to go, they took him off and he just sat on the bench beside me – that was a great moment to savour for me.”

This month marked the 51st anniversary of a prominent Carnoustie resident making history in British football.

It was in January 1970 that Dunfermline Athletic appointed then Dundonian Dave McNicoll captain at 18 years old.

The centre-half, who had a spell with Dundee FC after leaving Morgan Academy, was given the nod to lead out the Pars for the first time against Celtic at Parkhead.

Dave, now, of course, owner of the popular Carnoustie Golf Shop in the Angus town, remembers the occasion well.

Dave McNicoll.
Dave McNicoll.

“We were staying in a hotel in Dunblane the night prior to taking on Celtic in Glasgow,” recalled Dave (69).

“Manager George Farm just came up after dinner and told me I was going to be skipper.

“I learned over the next few days through newspapers and radio that I was the youngest player at that time ever to captain a British senior side.”

Despite Dave’s leadership, the Pars lost the Scottish Cup tie 2-1, Harry Hood scoring a late winner for the Hoops.

Jim Gillespie had put the Fife side ahead, with John Hughes levelling.

Dave and I are around the same age and, indeed, shared a class and played football at Morgan Academy, and were also at Butterburn Youth Club at the same time.

Bill Shankly’s transfer pursuit of Pars ace

I also asked him about his proposed transfer from Dunfermline to Liverpool, which fell through.

“The clubs had agreed a £45,000 fee and I went down to Liverpool for a few days,” recalled Dave.

“Everything seemed fine and I had a few training sessions with them.

“Bill Shankly kept saying that I would soon be signing the contract.

“There was then a hold-up in negotiations, with Shanks eventually revealing that Dunfermline now wanted £60,000 – and that he wasn’t going to pay that.”

Bill Shankly.
Bill Shankly.

Disappointed with the turn of events, it also spelled the beginning of the end for Dave at Dunfermline.

“To say I wasn’t happy was an understatement,” said Dave.

“George Miller was in charge by that time and he refused to budge.

“It was disappointing to say the least.”

Dave also played for Hearts and Montrose, among others.

Interestingly, he also worked for DC Thomson in later years, notably on the Scoop football magazine.

Dundee Schools FA Primary League match secretary Gerry Dignan came on with information regarding the photo of the St Joseph’s PS football team on November 21.

The team were holding a cup, but we didn’t know the name of it, or the names of any of the players.

“This is interesting,” he opened, “I can confirm it is the Junior Sports Cup, which is now played as knock-out competition for all primary schools.

“As other cups were played in that format around that time, it, perhaps, might have been the same then.

“We can’t say for sure.”

St Joseph's PS.
St Joseph’s PS.

Gerry, a good source of facts at this level, and a good friend to BwB, continued: “But here’s the confusing part.

“As the ball says 1966, we can assume that was in the spring/summer of 1966, making it season 1965-66.

Mystery over picture

“The Junior Sports Cup (from the cup engraving) shows St Columba’s as the winners.

“The records then show an empty space for 1966-67.

“So, unless seasons were different then, or the cup was played for before the Christmas break, or it’s the wrong school…

“We seem to have a mystery on our hands.”

Can any other reader add to this?

 width=Further to our St Columba’s BC stories, this photo is from 1976 and shows Dundee Lord Provost Charles Farquhar presenting the Lord Provost Cup (CDP Farquhar) to U/15 team captain Derek Cruden.

The team were playing Hauptschule Bickendorf, of Cologne, and local company Timex donated 13 watches to the German team.

This article originally appeared on the Evening Telegraph website. For more information, read about our new combined website.