Greatest XI - 5. Centre Back
27th February 2016
With Jimmy Sandison taking the first centre back position in the Greatest XI, it's now time to find his defensive partner.
The next four most popular players from last week's poll are listed below, and you can now vote for the player you think should wear the number 5 shirt.
If you voted for Jimmy last week, choose another player you consider to be an Airdrie great - if you didn't vote for Jimmy you can choose the same player you voted for last week (if they made the shortlist), or pick someone else.
As always, voting closes at 12pm on Friday (4th March). The shortlisted nominees are:
1952-1956 / 1956-1960
Dougie signed for Airdrieonians from Douglas Water Thistle at the very youthful age of 15 in August 1952. His time at Broomfield lasted until the start of the 1960/61 season, with a very brief encounter in England with Swindon town in 1956 but he soon returned for a second spell as a Diamond. He made 185 appearances during that period scoring around 15 goals.
He was a tough tackling, robust and commanding centre half, who offered a goal threat too. His request for a transfer led to Rangers offering the Diamonds a record fee of £15,000 in 1961. His ability was never in question as he came to pick up a couple of caps with the Scotland under 23 sides. On the 8th of February 1955, less than a fortnight after his 18th birthday, he lined up at Shawfield alongside much more experienced team mates Eric Caldow, Dave Mackay and Aberdeen’s Graham Leggat and Bobby Wishart and made a second appearance three years later at Tynecastle against Wales, when he had a couple of years on a young debutant Jim Baxter. They were his only representative honours, although there were much fewer international and representative matches in that decade.
He played when Airdrieonians were relegated in 1954 but the following season, he was part of the side that had its best season in that decade during which the club reached the League semi-final to be beaten by Hearts, took Celtic to a replay in the Scottish Cup at the semi-final as well and enjoyed a very long unbeaten run en route to winning the B Division and a return to the top league. Only two games were lost in their 30 match campaign.
He only played occasionally during his four years at Ibrox, then a season with Third Lanark followed before heading for Brockville where he made over a hundred appearances for the Bairns before his final swansong in 1969, at East End Park for a year.
1962-1969 / 1974-1979
Born in the town on 13th November 1943, Jim was still in his teens when he arrived at Broomfield from East of Scotland youth outfit Lochend Hearts.
His debut came in the league game with Third Lanark at Broomfield on November 10th 1962, but it wasn’t until the following season that he really made his mark as a committed yet polished centre-half. Together with wing halves Sam Goodwin and Derek Whiteford, he would soon form what is still considered one of Airdrieonians’ most celebrated half-back lines. As a proclamation, ‘Goodwin, Black and Whiteford’ would come to roll off the tongue every bit as effortlessly as those other iconic threesomes of Diamonds’ lore, ‘Ewart, Dick and McQueen’ and ‘McMillan, Baird and Welsh’.
Jim’s initial spell with Airdrie stretched until May 1969 by which time he had amassed 184 appearances and developed into one of the most sought after stoppers in the Scottish game. As things unfolded, it was Hibernian, at the time a leading force in the top division, who eventually shelled out a fee of £32,500 to bag the defender. Black appeared for Hibs over 150 times during a rich spell of success that included winning the League Cup in 1972, as well as back-to-back Dryburgh Cups (’72 & ’73) and a Scottish Cup final appearance, also in ’72.
On the eve of season 1974-75, however, Jim made an emotional return to Broomfield featuring for the Diamonds a further 199 times, including 1975’s Scottish Cup final defeat to Celtic and, a year later, silverware at last in that epic Spring Cup final display against Clydebank at Firhill. Leaving Broomfield in 1979, Jim went on to play for and manage Stenhousemuir.
Airdrie’s signing of Jackie McDougall from Port Glasgow Juniors in November, 1921, brought an end to our long search for a natural and commanding centre-half. We had tried five different men in the important defensive role during the previous season, and, in the run-up to Jackie’s first-team debut, Tommy Preston had been filling in temporarily at the heart of our rearguard.
It was almost two years after his introduction before he missed a league fixture, and, given his crucial position in the side, it’s a simple truth that he was as vital a member of our greatest team as anyone else. The 1924 cup triumph was the pinnacle of his achievements as a Diamond of course, but he remained a huge favourite with the fans until his departure after more than seven years at Broomfield. He made in excess of 300 first-team appearances, and contributed 21 goals when he had the opportunity to join our attack.
He played for Scotland against Ireland in 1925/26, and was capped twice by the Scottish League, in 1925/26 and 1926/27. His brother James was also a centre-half, who won two caps for Scotland.
Sunderland paid a sizeable £5,000 fee for his services at the end of 1928/29, and he spent five seasons at Roker Park, and then three more at Leeds.
Signed from Fauldhouse United in September 1978, Brian, along with the likes of Harry Erwin, Ian Gordon and Willie McGuire, formed a kind of youthful front introduced by Bobby Watson as part of his concentrated bid to reach the Premier League. Making his mark in the side fairly quickly, Brian slotted into the right hand side of midfield with an uncommon blend of raw exuberance and growing maturity. Exciting times lay ahead for the player too. In his first full season with the Diamonds, they achieved promotion from the First Division in style. McKeown and co’s fresh-faced bluster seemed to mesh perfectly with the perhaps more measured brand of professionalism from the likes of Sandy Clark and Tommy Walker. Airdrie’s inimitable slant on life upstairs was inspiring as Watson’s side finished their first season in the top flight a highly creditable 7th. Airdrie’s survival instincts deserted them twelve months later, however, and, with Bill Munro now in charge, Brian had returned to Scottish football’s second tier, a level at which he would remain for the rest of his eight seasons with the club. During that time he played under a further four managers – Ally McLeod, Derek Whiteford, Gordon McQueen and Jimmy Bone – all of whom seemed in agreement that his wealth of experience in reading the game was better suited to more defensive duties.
It was McQueen who eventually rewarded Brian’s resolute qualities with the club captaincy, a responsibility he held mainly in central defence although, as an occasional right back, he proved equally formidable.
Season 1989-90 brought Brian’s final appearances in the famous ‘Diamond’ and it was a campaign that, for so long, looked like mirroring Airdrie’s previous ascent into the Premier League. Sadly, that was not to be, and in November 1990, Brian signed for Queen of the South with whom he stayed for several seasons before returning to the Junior ranks.
In recognition of their outstanding loyalty to the Diamonds, Brian and fellow-stalwart Johnny Martin were rewarded with a testimonial against Rangers in July 1989. It was an honour thoroughly merited by one of Airdrieonians’ most unassuming heroes.