Greatest XI - 7. Right Midfielder
5th March 2016
With the greatest goalkeeper and back four decided, we jump to the number 7 shirt as we ask you to vote for Airdrie's Greatest Right Midfielder.
Many distinguished players have graced the right side of the Diamonds midfield over the years, and our panel discussed such names as Jackie Ferguson, Tommy Murray, Johnny Murdoch and Billy Price before agreeing their shortlist of four.
As always, voting closes at 12pm on Friday (11th March). The shortlisted nominees are:
An old fashioned winger, Willie's position was seen as outside right. He began his career with Hibernian in 1941 and had a spell on loan with Arbroath in 1947/48 before heading for Broomfield in the same season.
The Diamonds were relegated in his first season and missed out on an immediate return to Division A by a solitary point in 1948/49. He was a member of the side who just missed out on a League Cup semi-final spot in the same season, going on to become an important part of the promotion winning side of 1949/50. Willie's occasional goals and assists ensured the club maintained their Division A status until 1953/54.
He made over 100 appearances, an excellent figure at a time when league sizes were much lower. He played in a distinguished Airdrieonians team which included Jimmy Parlane, Ian McMillan and Bobby Flavell.
Freed in April 1954, Willie had brief spells with Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath. He sadly passed away in 2010.
1989-1995 / 1996-1997
Alan started his career with Meadowbank Thistle in 1984 before joining Dundee in 1987. Airdrie Manager Gordon McQueen signed Lawrence in 1989 shortly after watching him score a hat trick against Airdrie whilst on loan back at Meadowbank Thistle. He made his debut on the 1st of April, scoring once against Queen of the South in a 3-0 victory.
The aptly nicknamed "Nipper" soon established himself in the first team, and the fans quickly took to him due to his ability and willingness to run at defences with great pace. In his second season with the club he formed an impressive frontline with Owen Coyle and Graham Harvey. It was this goalscoring trio which went a long way to the club gaining promotion in the following season, with Alan scoring 13 league goals and setting up many for his team mates.
The next two seasons saw Airdrie competing in the Premier League and Nipper was to be the thorn in many of the countries top defences, with top international defenders failing to cope with not only his pace but his quick thinking and inteligent playmaking. Lawrence scored a total of seven league goals in the 1991-92 season including one in each of the first three league games. After playing a further two seasons in the First Division, Lawrence secured a move back to the Premier League at Hearts.
Alan returned to Airdrieonians for one final season in 1996/97 with the club missing out on promotion back to the Premier League via the play-offs. After spells at Partick, Stenhousemuir, Cowdenbeath and Arbroath, Nipper would once again return to Airdrie in a coaching role. In total he made over 200 appearances for the Diamonds scoring 52 goals. During his time at the club he played in two Scottish Cup Finals, two League Cup Semi-Finalswon the B&Q Cup and represented the club in the European Cup Winners Cup and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2003.
Kevin McCann was signed for the Diamonds from Carluke Rovers in 1972. Season 1972/73 saw the team relegated to Division 2, however Kevin was able to provide a spark in the gloom when he netted an 89th minute winner against Champions elect Celtic in a fantastic 2-1 Broomfield success. His wizardry on the ball was in evidence throughout the 1973/74 season when the Diamonds scored over a hundred goals en route to Second Division title success. Many of those goals came from McCann deliveries.
His dazzling control and ability to go one way only to instantly change direction would take him past any marker. Entertainment was part of his game. He scored a memorable goal in a 4-0 rout of Raith Rovers after weaving his way past four players The following season he was part of the team that ran Celtic close in the League Cup semi-final losing 1-0, a first team regular in the League side that finished in 11th position to miss out on the Premier League by a couple of points and played a critical role in the 1975 Scottish Cup final in which Ian McMillan’s side were beaten 3-1 by Celtic - though Kevin had every Airdrieonians fan on their feet at Hampden when he fired home an equaliser close to half time. His goal took him into the record books as one of only three Airdrie players to score in the Cup final.
When Ian McMillan left the manager’s position towards the end of the following season, Jackie Stewart had a two year spell in charge followed by Bobby Watson. Kevin was a regular fixture at the time, but called time with the Diamonds towards the end of the 1978/79 to head for Dumfries. He played for Queen of the South for four seasons before signing for Stenhousemuir.
During his time with Airdrie he made 185 appearances, scoring 20 goals and putting a smile on the faces of everyone who watched him grace the Diamond shirt over that seven year spell. His contribution saw him inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.
In the summer of 1912 Airdrieonians paid £100 to Lincoln City to secure the signature of the former Peebles Rovers player Jimmy Reid, and that ranks as possibly the best investment the club ever made. At 22 he had not yet earned the big name of some of his contemporaries, but he quickly made up for that lost time.
His first appearance came as the club introduced its new Diamond jersey in the league opener against Rangers at Ibrox. A debut goal for Jimmy gave us the lead, although we eventually went down 4-2 (revenge was taken in the return fixture at Broomfield four months later when a Reid hat-trick gave us a 3-0 victory). The goals continued to flow for our new centre-forward though, and his final tally of 39 (in all competitions) for 1912/13 set a new Airdrie record. He bagged the same number of goals in 1913/14, although we slipped two places down the Division One table to finish 6th at the end of that campaign. Flanked by inside-forwards Alex Thomson and Andy Donaldson, our front three was one of the most feared attacks in the country.
The outbreak of World War One put a dampener on Jimmy’s Diamond deeds as three years spent in France reduced him to fleeting appearances when he was home on leave. Cruelly, those three years would probably have represented the peak of his footballing strengths. He played a few times at outside-right in 1920/21 and 1921/22 (when he skippered the team), and finally made the permanent switch in November, 1922, as Hughie Gallacher began to stake his claim for our centre-forward position. The greatest Airdrieonians team was just coming to the fore, and Jimmy was an integral part of that side, whose achievements are familiar to you all, I’m sure.
He made such an instant impression at Broomfield that, in those first two seasons, he won one full cap for Scotland, along with three for the Scottish League. He added one more appearance at each level in 1919/20, once football had got back to normal (having also turned out for the League side in 1914/15). After he moved out to the wing he caught the eye of the international selectors again (his role in the 5-0 destruction of Motherwell at Fir Park in our 1923/24 Scottish Cup run was almost certainly the clincher, as our first three goals came from Jimmy Reid “lobs” as the press called them at the time), and he was recalled to the full XI to play Ireland, just a few weeks short of his 34th birthday, and virtually 10 years to the day since his first full cap. That famous Cup final triumph soon followed of course (our first goal created by a Reid cross), and Jimmy continued until the end of 1926/27, taking his Airdrie appearance figure well past the 400 mark, and his goals total to 150.