Obituary: Davie Souter, Scottish footballer best known for his time with Clyde

Davie Souter, footballer. Born: 30 March 1940. Died: 11 March 2020, aged 79

Davie Soutar

Davie Souter was a versatile and highly regarded Scottish footballer who played for a number of clubs throughout the 1960s.

He was best known for his time with Clyde, then a top tier club based at Shawfield in the old first division, for whom he played for six seasons from 1964 onwards, making his debut against Falkirk on 14 November.

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The high point was being a member of the side which clinched third place in the league behind the Old Firm in 1967, an outstanding achievement for a part-time team with a squad of about 15 players and home crowds averaging about 3,000. During that season he played in several positions, latterly mostly at full back. In an interview a few years ago he stated that he had played in every position for Clyde bar goalkeeper.

That was the season when Celtic made history by being the first British team to win the European Cup while Rangers narrowly failed to bring a second European trophy to Glasgow, losing in the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in extra time.

As a measure of the quality of the Shawfield outfit, a few weeks prior to the Lisbon final, Clyde held Celtic to a draw in the Scottish Cup semi-final, with Souter receiving praise for his performance in direct opposition to Jimmy Johnstone, a player he much admired.

One press report referred to Souter as “stout of heart against the elusive Johnstone”. Of Celtic’s 17 domestic cup ties that season it was the only one they failed to win. And shortly before Rangers’ European final they also held them to a draw at Ibrox.

The only disappointment to that season was not being allowed to take part in the following season’s Fairs Cup (predecessor of the UEFA Cup). A rule limiting one city to one place excluded Clyde as Rangers took precedence.

In April 2014 that Clyde team, including Souter, were all inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame at a special function in Glasgow. A modest, self effacing character, he had to be persuaded to attend but thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with old teammates.

One of them, Dick Staite, now Sir Richard Staite (for sevices to education), recently commented: “Davie was a quiet, reserved type of bloke, easy company in the dressing room and one who ‘did his talking on the pitch’. He was always a real presence on the field and his immediate opponent knew he had been in a game. An utterly dependable player with a good understanding of all aspects of play, he was a valued member of the team.”

David Souter was born at home in Bellfield Avenue, Dundee to parents John and Mary and had three older brothers Ian, Norman and Bill. Their father was a train driver who died when Davie was 14, leaving their mother to bring up the family on her own in difficult circumstances.

He attended Logie Secondary School in Dundee where he showed promise at football. His father had played locally while brother Norman was a fringe player at Blackpool when Stanley Matthews was there. After school he undertook an apprenticeship as boilerman/plumber while continuing to play football.

Aged about 17 his ability on the wing was spotted by junior side Carnoustie Panmure, who signed him, and senior sides soon showed interest.

In 1958 he joined Arbroath where he played for three seasons, two in the top tier, before brief spells at Berwick Rangers and East Fife. In 1962 he rejoined Arbroath, then in the lower tier and managed by John Prentice, where he stayed for just over two seasons and developed a good relationship with the manager. During season 1964/5 Prentice, by then Clyde manager, signed him as the team consolidated their position in the old first division following promotion. He remained at Shawfield until 1970, during which time Clyde consistently punched above their weight, retaining their top division status.

Davie played his last game in a Scottish Cup tie against Aberdeen on 24 January and signed for Dundee during the close season, where he was reunited with Prentice, by then Dens manager.

Cartilage problems bedevilled his time at Dundee, permitting him to play only 12 games for the Dark Blues and bringing down the curtain on his professional career in 1971 after more than 200 games, mostly in the top division.

Throughout his career, Davie was always part time while working in engineering-related jobs. Latterly he was janitor at Inverbrothock Primary School in Arbroath.

While playing for Arbroath he met Doris Johnston, a waitress in a local hotel, and the couple were married in July 1965. They enjoyed a long and happy marriage during which they lived mostly in Arbroath and had four children, daughters Jackie, Debbie, Leslie and son, David. Doris, who died a year ago, latterly had health issues and Davie spent much of his time caring for her.

A warm and supportive family man he enjoyed following football on television, walking and reading.

He is survived by his children and six grandchildren.

JACK DAVIDSON

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