Obituary: Joseph James Davin, footballer

Joseph James Davin, left, played for Hibernian, Greenock Morton and Dumbarton.
Joseph James Davin, left, played for Hibernian, Greenock Morton and Dumbarton.
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Born: 13 February, 1942, in Dumbarton. Died: 30 September, 2013, in Dumbarton, aged 71

Joseph James Davin, who has died aged 71 following a long illness, was a footballer with Hibernian, Ipswich Town, Greenock Morton and Dumbarton.

He was one of a number of professional footballers who were products of St Patrick’s High School in Dumbarton. This was the school Sir Alex Ferguson referred to in his autobiography as the only team that his own boyhood team, Govan High School in Glasgow, was seldom able to beat.

Like Ferguson, who was a year older, Davin played for Drumchapel Amateurs before joining Hibernian in 1959 and making his senior debut as an 18-year-old against Ayr United in the old Scottish A Division in 1960. Davin, who was a bright scholar, gave up the opportunity to go on to university when a number of clubs approached him for his services after he gained four international caps for Scotland at schoolboy level.

He was a classy full back with a cultured left foot and stood out in matches for Drumchapel, whose players were coached by Cardross man Douglas Smith. Drumchapel Amateurs were unquestionably Scotland’s foremost senior soccer nursery of that era and had a proud history. They had many players who would turn professional, such as Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Andy Gray, Archie Gemmill, John Wark, Asa Hartford, John O’Hare and John Robertson.

Davin played only 28 games for the Hibernian first team before he was snapped up by Ipswich Town in 1963.

The Tractor Boys had distinguished themselves by winning the English First Division championship two years earlier and were at the height of their fame.

Davin played for them until 1966 when he transferred to Greenock Morton, across the River Clyde from his home town of Dumbarton.

He stayed with the Tail o’ the Bank club for just one season though before joining Dumbarton, whose ground, the old Boghead Park, was near the Davin family home in Silverton, where Joseph was brought up with his four sisters by his parents, Joseph and Kitty.

Dumbarton was the team he had watched as a primary school pupil when he played for Wee St Pat’s, as St Patrick’s elementary school was then known, and for Dunbartonshire West.

His wife, Betty, whom he married in 1964 and is a native of Old Kilpatrick, said he was tiring of football at that time and wanted to settle down and take up a post outside the game.

He eventually did this and worked with Polaroid UK at Vale of Leven Industrial Estate for more than 30 years. Davin retired from football and concentrated on his other sporting love, golf, becoming a member of Dumbarton Golf Club, where he excelled at the game.

Betty said: “He was a gentle, loving and much loved father and husband, a real family man.”

Unfortunately, after a hip operation and a bad reaction to the anaesthetic, Davin had a long spell of illness and suffered from Alzheimer’s.

He was able to get out socially only occasionally and attended five years ago a school reunion at the Dumbuck Hotel where he met other St Patrick’s FPs.

They included former Third Lanark and Celtic goalkeeper Evan Williams and John O’Hare who was capped 13 times for Scotland, played for Sunderland and Derby County and won two European Cup winner’s medals with Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest.

His wife and daughters looked after Joseph at home but the illness gradually worsened over the years and he died on 30 September.

Canon Gerry Conroy celebrated his funeral Mass at St Patrick’s Church in Dumbarton and officiated at the final committal in Dumbarton Cemetery.

Joseph Davin – he was widely known and respected in his home town as Joe – is survived by his wife, Betty, his daughters Lorraine, Cathrine and Joanne, their husbands, Campbell, Gerry and Steph, and his grandchildren Andrew, Lewis, Ciara and Alix.