Scotsman obituaries: Pat Liney, goalkeeping ever-present in Dundee’s title-winning team

Pat Liney, footballer. Born: 14 July, 1936 in Paisley. Died: 10 August, 2022 in Broughty Ferry, aged 86

Pat Liney was a top-class Scottish goalkeeper whose 16-year-long career highlight was as the ever present Dundee FC custodian in their old First Division title winning 1961/2 season, the only time in their history the Dark Blues have won the top tier league. In a nailbiting finish they beat Rangers to the title, having earlier in the season declared their intent by defeating the Glasgow giants 5-1 in their own backyard at Ibrox on a fog-shrouded evening.

Although not the highest profile player in a team that included internationalists like Alex Hamilton, Ian Ure, Gordon Smith and Alan Gilzean, Liney certainly played his part and was highly appreciated by teammates for his consistency and ability to rise to the occasion.

Later Pat joined boyhood heroes St Mirren before crossing the Border to play for now defunct Bradford Park Avenue and Bradford City, achieving a career total of over 350 senior matches. At 5ft 10in he was not tall for a goalkeeper by current standards but was very acrobatic and an excellent shot stopper.

Pat Liney (right) with fellow Dundee goalkeeper Rab Douglas in 2013

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In addition to his football prowess he was a talented singer who performed professionally in clubs for a number of years, particularly during his spell down south when he was often billed as ‘The Singing Goalkeeper’. An extremely likeable gent who was excellent company and a gifted raconteur, he was popular with everyone.

Patrick Liney was born in Linwood, Paisley where he was brought up along with his siblings. He attended the local St. Mirin’s Academy playing football outfield till one day the team’s goalkeeper was injured and Pat stepped in, launching his career between the posts.

Initially he played for youth team Linwood Thistle before joining Junior side Dalry Thistle. From a young age he was an enthusiastic St Mirren fan attending all their home games usually with his father, although he recalled in an interview that if his dad was working he would go on his own aged eight or nine and be first in the ground as soon as the turnstiles opened.

Early football progress was interrupted by National Service in the Army in the mid 1950s. Keen to travel as opposed to being based at Aldershot to play Army football, he contrived to avoid selection for the team by playing a trial as a midfielder but despite that he was picked. After explaining his ruse the authorities agreed to send him to West Germany for most of his service.

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Once discharged he was given the opportunity of a trial with St Mirren but an injury sustained with Dalry Thistle meant he had to withdraw. After reportedly saving five penalties for Thistle in a Junior cup tie Liney attracted Dundee’s attention and was signed in 1957 by manager Willie Thornton, the former Rangers and Scotland player.

At first he was second string to Bill Brown the Scotland internationalist, replacing him because of illness for his debut on 10 May, 1958 against Rangers at Ibrox in a 1-0 win. After Brown’s transfer to Spurs in June 1959, Pat became the regular number one.

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By then manager Bob Shankly, brother of the better known Bill, was beginning to assemble a team combining youth and experience to challenge for honours which culminated on 28th April 1962 with Dundee clinching the old First Division title, defeating St Johnstone 3-0 at Muirton Park, Perth. Pat did well to keep a clean sheet but three days earlier had made a crucial contribution to the team’s success by saving a St Mirren penalty at Dens Park to secure a vital win and edge ahead of Rangers with one game remaining.

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Later he recalled "being probably the coolest guy in the packed ground” facing the penalty taken by Jim Clunie as Pat’s father had tipped him off beforehand where he would place it, helping him pull off a marvellous save. After full time he was mobbed by celebrating fans and needed a police escort to reach the dressing room.

His role in the title win was highlighted by Alan Gilzean’s tribute: “Pat Liney’s contribution to Dundee’s championship season should never be underestimated and the fact he was an ever present speaks for itself. He was rock solid and never let us down.”

That summer he played in all five Dundee games in the international New York tournament but the following season, surprisingly and disappointingly, was displaced by new keeper Bert Slater, missing the club reaching the European Cup semi-final and only played twice more before his transfer to St Mirren in 1964.

He described being “as proud as punch” to pull on a Saints jersey for the first time before going on to play over 60 times for them.

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In 1966 he was transferred to Bradford Park Avenue and a year later joined Bradford City, where he remained till 1972 when he returned to Park Avenue for a final season. Pat regularly sang at the Edwardian Club next to City’s ground and at working mens’clubs around Burnley.

Later after his return north he was a popular matchday hospitality host at Dens Park while in 2011 he was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame and given a Legend’s Award. He was also appointed Honorary Club President whose duties he took seriously, entailing his regular presence at the ground and often travelling on the team coach to away matches.

In 1960 in Fife he married wife Ruby with whom he had a long happy marriage during which they had two sons Kevin and Derek. They survive him along with four grandchildren and a great granddaughter.

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