Joe Davis who has died aged 75 was a highly regarded Scottish footballer of the 1960s who played more than 400 games for Third Lanark, Hibs and Carlisle United, his name most closely associated with Hibs for whom he was signed by Jock Stein and a fans’ favourite.
Club captain for three seasons, he played for them when Easter Road rocked to defeats of big European names including Napoli, Valencia, Hamburg and Porto. He played throughout Europe and in Mexico, North America and Africa during summer tours. An accomplished consistent left back, he achieved the remarkable feat of playing in every league game through four consecutive seasons between 1965 and ’69, in the course of accumulating the scarcely believable statistic of 273 consecutive games for the club. An expert penalty taker, he racked up a record 43 from the spot, forming part of a “double act” in fans’ perception with tricky winger Eric Stevenson, who frequently earned the penalty. A member of the Edinburgh side’s 1969 League Cup final team which lost 6-2 to Celtic in front of 80,000 plus fans, he was also in the sides that finished fourth and third in the old First Division in 1965 and ’68 respectively. Had it not been for the presence of outstanding rivals Eddie McCredie and Tommy Gemmell, he would have been a candidate for national honours.
He made his debut for Third Lanark in a 6-1 win in a Scottish Cup tie on 17 February 1962 against Inverness Caley . From then till November 1964 he appeared in more than 80 games, with team-mates including future Scotland manager Ally McLeod. The highlight was winning the Glasgow Cup in 1963 beating Celtic 2-1 in the final, the first time they had done so since 1909.
His fine displays were attracting attention with Everton among his admirers but Hibs’ manager Jock Stein signed him for £7,000 in November 1964 as a replacement for John Parke. Stein had been impressed by him when Hibs had played Thirds in the League Cup. Following his debut, against his old club, he suffered appendicitis despite which he only missed three games. In the wake of Stein’s resignation early 1965, Hibs lost the Scottish Cup semi final to Dunfermline and finished fourth in the League.
Under successor Bob Shankly later that year in the Fairs’ Cup they beat Valencia at home but lost away to draw the tie, with the Spaniards prevailing in the play off at their own ground. Appetite for European competition whetted, Hibs, with Davis an ever present, went on to record wins over Porto, Napoli, Llubljana, Lokomotiv Leipzig, losing on the away goal to Hamburg, and, nearer home, by a single goal to Leeds. Perhaps the most celebrated of those was the win over Napoli in 1967, then top of the Italian League, who won the first leg in Italy 4-1. Against the odds, Hibs recorded a memorable 5-0 win on an unforgettable evening at Easter Road.
Davis also took part in three summer tours, to Mexico, North America, Nigeria and Ghana. In the 1967 trip to North America, 12 clubs including Sunderland, Stoke, Den Haag, Brazil’s Bangu, Uruguay’s Cerro, and Aberdeen played in a league. Afterwards Davis was included in an “All Stars’ XI” of the best players, selected by the managers involved.
In August 1969 he played his last game for the club in a defeat by Ayr United and shortly after joined Carlisle United. During his time at Easter Road he had played with a number of top players including Colin Stein, Pat Stanton, Willie Hamilton and Peter Cormack.
United were then in the old Secondnd Division managed by Bob Stokoe. In season 1970-1, Davis played in all 42 League matches, again underlining his consistency while helping United to a creditable fourth place.
After playing more than 80 games, he retired in 1972 to take up a hotel manager’s post at Fenwick, Ayrshire, in a company run by footballers Joe McBride and Billy McNeil.
Davis was brought up in Pollokshaws and attended Sir John Maxwell primary then Shawlands Academy.
He served his time as marine engineer at John Rowan’s Govan yard and began playing for Shettleston Juniors.
Through that connection he met his wife Rose with whom he enjoyed almost 53 years of happy marriage. Reluctantly, she agreed one Saturday to help there at the “pie stall”, where Joe appeared as a customer as he was not playing that day and so began their relationship.
They lived in Fenwick from the early 1970s onwards during which time he also worked as a company representative. He was very involved in the local community where he was extremely popular, well known and highly thought of. A former captain of the nearby historic golf club Loudoun Gowf, he was also president of Fenwick Farmers’ Society and Fenwick Bowling Club, a sport he grew to love.
Willie Henderson, Rangers and Scotland winger of the 60s who played often against Joe, described him as “one of the best left backs around, an excellent player and a tremendously nice guy. ” That opinion was clearly shared by the exceptional attendance at his funeral.
He is survived by his wife, son Gary, daughter Kirsty, daughter Pam having predeceased him, and by four grandchildren and a great granddaughter.