Greatest XI - 10. Striker
9th April 2016
With legendary hitman Owen Coyle taking the number 9 shirt in our Greatest XI, it's time for the final vote to find our second striker.
The second to fifth placed nominees from last week's poll are listed below, and you can once again vote for your favourite to take the final place in the Greatest XI.
Remember, all votes from last week are cleared - so if you want your favourite in the team, vote again this week.
As always, voting closes at 12pm on Friday (8th April).
Hugh Baird had represented Calderbank in the Airdrie Schools’ Cup competition before he took a step up to Slamannan Villa, and then on to Dalry Thistle. He played only a handful of games at Junior level before he moved to Broomfield in March, 1951. Initially, opportunities at centre-forward were difficult to come by, with both Willie McGurn and Guy Lennox barring his way, but once he got a run in the side, late in 1952, the highlights, and goals, came thick and fast.
His 14 goals in league and cups in 1953/54 were not enough to prevent our relegation, but our dominance of ‘B’ Division in 1954/55 gave him seven hat-tricks in the campaign, as well as the club record of 58 goals (in all competitions) in a single season. He was Airdrie’s top marksman for 5 consecutive seasons, from 1952/53 to 1956/57, inclusive.
The continuation of those goalscoring feats at the highest level – he finished as the top league’s leading scorer in both 1955/56 and 1956/57 – ensured there was no shortage of interest in his services, and he eventually left the Diamonds for Leeds United in the summer of 1957, when we received a record transfer fee of £12,000. He was a Scottish internationalist by then, having played against Austria at Hampden in 1955/56. His 175 goals for Airdrie, in 200 appearances, contained only three from the penalty spot.
Aberdeen later splashed out their record fee of £11,500 to bring him back north from Leeds, and he netted for the Dons in their 1958/59 Scottish Cup final defeat by St. Mirren.
Born and raised in Airdrie, Sandy Clark grew up to live out his boyhood dream of playing for the team he supported from an early age. He was faced with the option of joining Leeds United in the top League of England or joining Airdrie as a schoolboy in the early 70's, but there was no competition for the youngster - it was Airdrie all the way.
Sandy would go on to sign up for the First Team squad in 1974, however as Airdrie had a fairly settled team at the time he would have to wait til the 1975/76 season to break into the first team on a regular basis. In the opening League game of that season Clark would come on as a substitute to score once and set another goal up in a 3-3 draw against Dunfermline at East End Park. After a couple more seasons establishing himself at the club, in 1978 when Bobby Watson became Airdrie Manager he quickly appointed Sandy as his team Captain.
It was also around this time that Clark would strike up a good on-field partnership with Willie McGuire. In the 1978/79 season Sandy would score 26 times which would result in substantial bids from Hibernian and Celtic being rejected by the Broomfield side as they wished to hold on to their star man in their bid to win promotion to the Premier Division. And they would go on to do just that the following season, clinching promotion in a 3-1 win against Motherwell with Clark scoring once. He once again finished as our top goalscorer as well as winning the First Division Player of the Year Award.
Clark would continue to shine as Airdrie's star man over the next two seasons in the Premier League, scoring regularly and continuing to attract attention from other clubs, with Aberdeen and Partick Thistle being the latest clubs to have bids rejected. However with Airdrie being relegated at the end of the 1981/82 season the club eventually accepted a bid of £200,000 from West Ham United for their player. In that final season at Airdrie he would win the Scottish PFA Player's Player of the Year Award. He finished as Airdrie's top goalscorer on four occasions, and in 1980 was selected to Captain the Scottish Semi-Professional team in the Four Nations Tournament in Holland - which they would go on to win. In total Sandy made 267 appearances for the club and scored 101 goals. He was inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame in 2002.
Hughie Gallacher is not just an Airdrieonians Great, he is one of Scotland’s Greatest ever players. He was one of the first Scottish footballers in the nation's Hall of Fame in 2004. He was also entered into Airdrieonians' Hall of Fame in its first year. Bob McPhail described him as a superb centre forward with a superb sense of getting himself into the right position, never caught off balance and capable of shielding the ball probably better than any other player he had seen. One of the best footballers in the world at the time.
Born in Bellshill in 1903, he signed for Airdrieonians in May 1921 from Queen of the South. His scoring record was fantastic, netting 100 goals for the club in 129 appearances. During the same period he also gained five Scotland caps and three other international honours, scoring 16 goals when playing for his country. His time with Airdrieonians saw the side winning the Scottish Cup and finishing second on four occasions in the top league.
He remained with the club until December 1925 when a £6,500 fee took him to Newcastle. He went on to break all sorts of records that most players could only dream about. He scored five goals on six occasions in his career, once for a Scotland B side and once for a Scottish League side, both while with Airdrieonians. He held the position of third in world football with a scoring ratio of 24 goals in 20 games. He also attained legendary status for his country through being a "Wembley Wizard".
English football had Sir Stanley Matthews, Scotland had Hughie Gallacher. And isn’t it wonderful to know he was a Diamond.
1967-1972 / 1982-1983
The last Diamond to gain a full Scotland cap while playing with the club, Drew’s hat-trick of appearances, against Portugal, Northern Ireland and England, occurred within weeks of each other in 1971 and, on each occasion, involved him join the action from the substitutes’ bench. Sadly, a career playing for his country would fail to extend beyond this sudden burst, so it was to be in the domestic game where this classy inside-forward found fame, if not, perhaps, the fortune that often goes with it.
Drew was born in the small village of Annathill, on 5th October 1948. His football career began at local amateurs Kirkstyle FC from where he stepped up to the Junior grade with Kilsyth Rangers. Already a provisional Airdrieonians signing along with team-mates Billy Wilson and Jimmy Green, Drew was with the Duncansfield Park club when they won the Scottish Junior Cup in 1967. His call up to Broomfield came just before the start of the following season.
A stylish footballer, Drew was also razor-sharp in front of goal and, by the time Drew Busby had added his more full-bodied qualities to the mix, his renown as half of one of the most feared striking partnerships in Scottish football was set in place.
Away from the international arena, where he had also turned out for his country at League and Under-23 level, Drew’s lone domestic honour as a Diamond came in the shape of a Texaco Cup runners’ up medal although he also holds the distinction of scoring four goals for the club on no fewer than three occasions. Possibly, the most notable of these came in the 5-1 annihilation of Huddersfield Town at Broomfield on the way to the aforementioned 1972 final. In spite of their part-time status – Drew was an auto electrician to trade - it seemed only a matter of time before one of the big guns would snap him up and sure enough, as season 1971-72 ended, Aberdeen paid a fee in excess of £70,000 to take him to Pittodrie. He would go on to feature strongly in the Dons’ 1979-80 League championship success as well as appearing in three League Cup and one Scottish Cup final as the north-east coast club rose from strength to strength under a succession of high profile managers including, of course, the inimitable Alex Ferguson.
In October 1982 after more than a decade away, Drew returned to a very different Broomfield Park. The Diamonds were going through a dismal spell which even his homecoming couldn’t assuage. As a result, his second spell was brief before St.Mirren came in for him with a swap deal that would bring former Dundee striker Eric Sinclair to Lanarkshire. On leaving Love Street, Drew stepped into coaching, initially with former club Aberdeen but, in 2003, he also served a term as assistant to former Dons boss, Ian Porterfield, at Buson I’cons in the South Korean K-League. A member of both the Airdrie and Aberdeen Halls of Fame, in 1982 Drew was rewarded for his sterling service to the Pittodrie club with a testimonial against Ipswich Town.