Obituary: Dave Maclaren, well-travelled goalkeeper and football coach
DAVE Maclaren, who has died, aged 82 in his adopted homeland of Australia, was a member of an on-going goalkeeping dynasty. He was never more than a journeyman goalkeeper, but, he enjoyed success far away from his native Perthshire.
Dave’s elder brothers: Jim, who played for Chester City, Carlisle United and Berwick Rangers, Roy, who played for St Johnstone, Bury and Sheffield Wednesday and Monty, who played for Liverpool, were all goalkeepers, so, the young Dave followed in their footsteps.
While completing his National Service as a radar technician in the Royal Air Force, Dave represented Hong Kong, and helped Penang State win the Malaysia Cup. He also attracted the attention of Chelsea, to whom he was attached as an amateur, before he returned to Scotland and joined Dundee as a professional.
He was unable to oust future Scotland great Bill Brown from the ’Dee goalkeeper’s shirt, so he went south, to Leicester City, where he helped them win the Second Division (now the Championship) title in 1956-57. Maclaren had succeeded another Scotland cap, Jock Anderson, in the Foxes’ goal and he held his place in the First Division, until replaced by a youngster named Gordon Banks, whom City had signed from Chesterfield, in 1959-60.
Maclaren was then sold to Plymouth Argyle, spending five seasons at Home Park and helping the Pilgrims to their highest-ever league position, fifth in the Second Division, in 1962. From there, after 150 games, it was back to the Midlands, to Wolves,then languishing in the second tier after the glory days of Stan Cullis and Billy Wright.
However, after barely a season at Molineux, he returned to the South Coast, in what was seen as a strange signing, by Southampton boss Ted Bates. Bates had a goalkeeping crisis on his hands. Scottish internationalist Cambell Forsyth had sustained the broken leg which would effectively end his career, and Saints didn’t have an experienced back-up. Bates, however, recalled how, as his side had thrashed a poor Wolves team 9-3 the previous season, Maclaren had stopped perhaps another nine goals; so, he took the 32-year-old to the Dell, where he performed an excellent fill-in role, before giving way to another Scottish keeper, Eric Martin.
From Southampton, after some 300 senior games in his career, he moved on, spending 18 months with Worcester City, before beginning his coaching career back at Wolves, while big brother Roy was coaching just down the road at Aston Villa.
Maclaren then decided to go globe-trotting, back to Malaysia, where he had enjoyed his time in the RAF. He became National Coach and guided Malaysia to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. This success got him head-hunted, by Sydney City, so, off he went to Australia.
He spent six seasons in Sydney, before becoming somewhat disillusioned with life in New South Wales and moving to Victoria. Here, he was approached by the owners of the Greek ex-pats side Hellas, and offered the post of coach.
Hellas had finished bottom of the league, but Maclaren recruited well, including encouraging his former Wovles team mate and Scotland cap Frank Munro to try life in Australia. The team won the league the following season, but, after a fall-out with the owners, Maclaren quit.
He then had a short spell as coach to another Victoria side, George Cross, before leaving football for the somewhat calmer waters of the personal finance industry, where he established and ran a firm dealing in pension funds, which he ran up until his formal retirement.
Dave and wife Isobel then re-settled in the small, former gold mining town of Maldon, near Bendingo, Victoria, where he remained on his small farm, until ill-health forced him into a nursing home in Castlemaine, where he died.
Dave Maclaren is survived by Isobel, daughter Alison and her family.