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Greatest XI - 2. Right Back

6th February 2016

With John Martin taking his place between the sticks in the Greatest XI, we now ask you to turn your attention to the right back position, our number 2.

The four nominees chosen by our panel are listed below, and you can vote for your choice at the bottom of the page. Voting closes at 12pm on Friday 12th February, and the winner will be announced thereafter.

A tough decision awaited our panel, with many a distinguished full-back gracing the number 2 jersey over the years. Such names as Sandy Stewart, Jock McDonald, Johnny Peters and George Caldwell were mentioned, but the four who compete for a place in the team are: 

1989-1997 / 2002-2003
Remembered best as one of the Doddie's Diamonds squad in the 1990's, Jimmy was actually signed by Jimmy Bone for the 1989/90 season having been an established right-back the previous four seasons with Queens Park. He quickly showed the attributes that would make him a fan favourite during his time with the club. Tough tackling, dogged man-marking, tireless running and commitment, Jimmy was one of the players you could rely on to always give 100%.

Despite his diminutive stature Jimmy gave many a player a torrid afternoon, battling for every loose ball or fighting to regain possession and never allowing an opponent time to lift his head and look for a pass. He was equally at ease going forward, eventually becoming a regular in midfield, he possessed a ferocious shot that would see him scoring a number of memorable goals for the club. Most notably were his goals against both Celtic and Rangers in the 1992/93 season both securing 1-1 draws, he also scored both goals in 1994 when Airdrie knocked Motherwell out of the League Cup in a 2-1 victory at Fir Park.

Jimmy would leave the club in 1997, he was part of the Promotion winning squad in 1990/91, played in two Scottish Cup Finals, represented the club in both legs of their European Cup Winners Cup matches versus Sparta Prague, won the B&Q Cup (Challenge Cup) in 1994 as well as helping the club to many giant killing victories in cup competitions. He made a total of 242 appearances, scoring 15 goals.

Jimmy would return to Airdrie in 2002 in the first season as Airdrie United only making a handful of appearances, in 2003 Jimmy was appointed as the Under-19's coach before he eventually succeeded Kenny Black as club Manager in 2010. As the club were now part time Jimmy focused on bringing young players to the first team with many going on to establish themselves at the club or leaving to play in the higher leagues. Jimmy will always be fondly remembered by fans as someone who always gave his all to his role at the club seeing him earn a place in Airdrieonians Hall of Fame.

Jimmy Crapnell arrived at Airdrie from Cambuslang Rangers in October, 1926, at a time when Cup-winning right-back Alex Dick was struggling with the injury which would very soon signal the premature end of his career.

The diminutive newcomer made his debut on 20th November, 1926, as we drew 2-2 with St. Mirren at Broomfield. From then, he was not marked “absent” from a first-team fixture until 26th October, 1929, and he only missed out that day as he was Scotland’s travelling reserve for the international against Wales in Cardiff. That amazing run set a new club record for consecutive appearances (132), which was not surpassed for almost 40 years. Jimmy scored just one goal for the Diamonds, that from a penalty-kick in November, 1931, when he was skipper of the side! He captained the team for four straight seasons between 1929 and 1933.

His nine full caps for Scotland remains the Airdrieonians high, and he also shares the biggest number of Scottish League appearances, at five, with Jimmy Reid. He led his country four times, once in the then international pinnacle, against England at Wembley, in 1932. His debut international, also v England, at Hampden (the 1929 encounter when Alex Cheyne’s corner-kick goal gave birth to “the Hampden swirl”), brought this high praise from “Waverley” in the Daily Record – “Crapnell was the boss; the Airdrieonian was a little General.”

He was transferred to Motherwell in January, 1933, and was in the defeated side in the Scottish Cup final a few months later. He left the game at the age of 31, when an enticing insurance job was made available to him on condition that he gave up football to devote the required time to the post.

Along with outside left Jimmy Sommerville, Alex (or "Sanny" as the Airdrie support preferred it) was one of only two members of the Diamonds’ 1924 Scottish Cup-winning team to miss out on being honoured by his country.

Signed from Armadale as a centre-forward in September 1919, he debuted immediately in a First Division game against Hibernian at Broomfield. Moving to full back after only three games ‘up front’, he would become Airdrieonians’ regular right-back at a time of unprecedented success for the club, featuring heavily in the four-in-a-row league runners-up sequence between 1922 and 1926 as well as the Diamonds’ finest hour, that never-to-be-repeated Scottish Cup success against Hibs at Ibrox in April 1924.

An ever present that same 1923-24 season, Sanny was advised to stop playing “for health reasons” during December 1926, although he later attempted a comeback with Dykehead.

Great Airdrie fan, the late Robert Black, who would have witnessed this great twenties side in the flesh, had this to say about Sanny Dick… “A quiet but solid, no nonsense competitor, Airdrie were his only senior side” 

Paul was signed from juvenile side Edinburgh Athletic and made his first team debut for Airdrieonians in February 1962 in a 4-2 Broomfield success against Hibernian. The 18 year old retained the confidence of manager Willie Steel for the remaining league fixtures of the season as the Diamonds collected 14 points from their final ten matches to take their points total to a meagre 25 and avoid relegation. He is one of only two players who have made more than 700 appearances for the club, 708 in total while his goals scoring exploits took off in the seventies when he became something of a penalty and free kick expert relying wholly on power and accuracy. He netted 46 goals but had concentrated on his defensive duties in his earlier years and it was into his seventh season that he actually broke his duck in a 1-1 draw at Firhill on the 30th of December 1967.     


He was a local hero, who had not only played alongside Ian McMillan but also had the opportunity of playing under his management. Paul’s superb fitness level incredibly led to him playing in 196 consecutive matches for the Diamonds between April 1967 and September 1971. He was considered by all six managers who were his boss over the time he played with Airdrieonians as a model professional.

He had a high degree of success in his time with the club, playing for two promotion winning sides in 1965/66 as runners to Ayr United and 1973/74 as Champions returning to the top league the season following relegation. He played in the team that lost out to Celtic in the 1966/67 League Cup semi-final. In 1970/71 he played in the side that pushed Celtic to a replay in the Scottish Cup semi-final after a 3-3 draw and the team that were beaten in the final of the competition by Celtic in 1974/75 having also ran the Parkhead side  close in the League Cup semi-final earlier in the same season. He was a regular for the Diamonds during their participation in the Texaco Cup in successive seasons 1970/71 and 1971/72 during which the club recorded fantastic victories over Nottingham Forest, Manchester City and Huddersfield Town losing only in the final of their second year in the competition to Brian Clough’s Derby County who also took the English Title in the same season. Alongside several Lanarkshire Cup winner’s medals he won a Spring Cup winners medal in 1976, in the only year the competition was played. 

His final playing appearance was in May 1979 in a 1-0 win at Boghead which was also followed by his retirement from football but his much happier bow came in front of the supporters at Broomfield in May 1994 when many of the Diamond heroes of the past took to the field, applauded by the fans as they also said their farewell to the old ground. At the age of just 52, Paul died only some 15 months after that occasion but his memory lived on after he was inducted into the Airdrieonians Hall of Fame in it’s inaugural year of 2002.

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