Dave Stewart, who has died aged 71 after a lengthy illness, is number 902 in the long list of Scottish international footballers. He is also one of the perhaps too-long list of “one-cap wonders,” making his only appearance for the national side in a friendly against East Germany in Berlin on 7 September, 1977.
He played well that night, in a 1-0 loss, even saving a penalty, but that was his only appearance for the full Scotland side.
A Glasgow boy, Stewart, at the time a trainee upholsterer and carpet fitter, played youth football for Wellshot and Shettleston Violet. Still in his teens, he back-stopped Kilsyth Rangers’ side as they beat Rutherglen Glencairn to win the Scottish Junior Cup in 1967, and his form with the wee Rangers saw him move into senior football when Ally MacLeod signed him for Ayr United.
He quickly established himself in what is now seen as perhaps United’s best side, which was promoted back to the top flight in 1969. They maintained Ayr’s status among the best, even ensuring the Honest Men were in the “Top Ten,” when the Premier League began.
Stewart, who was known as: “The Man in Black,” from his all-black strip, long before Johnny Cash took the name, was so-impressive he won an Under-23 cap against Wales, in 1970. He was not alone in winning representative honours with the club – wingers Quintin “Cutty” Young and Johnny Doyle and full-back Dick Malone also won Under-23 honours, on their way to bigger clubs.
Stewart, too, was destined for higher things and, in 1973, seeking a replacement for Gary Sprake, Don Revie paid £30,000 to take Stewart, still a part-timer, south to join the mega-stars at Leeds United. He knew he was signed as back-up to Scotland internationalist David Harvey, but, he knew, too, he would get his chances in the first team.
He was a peripheral figure as Revie departed for England and Brian Clough came and went, and Jimmy Armfield came in to steady the ship. But, in 1975, after Harvey was inured in a car crash, Stewart was flung in at the deep end, playing in goals for United at the sharp end of the European Cup, in the quarter-final against Anderlecht, in a two-legged semi-final “kicking match” with Barcelona, then in the final, in Paris, against Bayern Munich.
That final is still a controversial one. There were some incredible refereeing decisions, against Leeds, disputed goals and non-goals and a riot by the very unhappy Leeds fans, after Bayern, Beckenbauer, Maier, Muller and the rest, won 2-0. But Stewart played well.
He continued to be mainly back-up to Harvey, but, he did make over 50 appearances for Leeds and, in 1977, during one of his spells as first-choice goalkeeper, his old Ayr boss, Ally MacLeod, building up for the Argentinian adventure the following season, gave Stewart that single cap in Berlin.
By the time Ally came to name his final squad for the finals, Stewart was again out of favour, indeed, his Leeds career was drawing to a close, and, he moved to West Brom for a fee of £55,000.
He failed to dislodge first-choice Tony Godden at the Hawthorns and quickly moved on to Swansea, helping them reach the old English First Division for the first time in 1980.
However, manager John Toshack wanted the side to have a distinctly Welsh look, signing Wales’ international goalkeeper Dai Davies and again consigning Stewart to back-up duties.
By now in his mid-thirties, Stewart accepted a short-term deal in Hong Kong, before returning to Swansea and hanging-up his gloves. He went back to his old carpet trade, managing a carpet shop in Swansea, before re-training as a goldsmith, a profession he followed in South Wales up until his formal retirement.
He and his wife Anne, who survives him, had no children, so it was easy for them to retire back to Scotland and to Kilsyth, where it all began for him.
When electing him into the club’s Hall of Fame, the Ayr United fans voted Stewart as the club’s finest goalkeeper, and he certainly has one claim to fame which is unique. He is the only goalkeeper ever to have played in both a Scottish Junior Cup Final and a European Cup Final.