Harold Davis, the former Rangers defender who returned to professional football after sustaining life-threatening injuries while serving with the Black Watch in the Korean War, has died.
The news was announced by the Ibrox club yesterday afternoon.
Davis, who was 85, started his career with the great East Fife side of the late 1940s. He also played for Partick Thistle and was assistant manager with Dundee when the Dens Park club won the League Cup in 1973, their last major honour. But it is with Rangers that Davis, dubbed the Iron Man of Ibrox, will remain forever associated.
The Ibrox club released a statement paying tribute to a bona fide club legend.
“Rangers Football Club is today extremely saddened to learn of the death of club legend Harold Davis,” it said.
“A member of the Ibrox Hall of Fame, and fondly remembered by supporters of his time, Davis has sadly passed away at the age of 85.
“Everyone at Rangers passes on their sincere condolences to Harold’s family at this difficult time.”
Playing alongside the likes of Bobby Shearer and John Greig between 1956 and 1964, Davis won four league championship medals and played for the Ibrox side in their first European final, which finished in two-legged defeat to Fiorentina in the 1961 European Cup Winners’ final.
Davis also won two League Cup winners’ medals and a Scottish Cup one.
But this is not even half the incredible story of his life.
He sustained serious injuries to his abdomen and instep after being hit by enemy gunfire in Korea in May 1953. He came round in a military hospital in Japan having been airlifted from the battlefield in a United States bubble chopper.
Having already established himself as a footballer at East Fife, Davis could have skipped active service.
“But I didn’t like the backdoor stuff,” he told The Scotsman in 2006. “I refused it. I said if there were boys going out then I am going out too.”
Davis spent two years recovering, latterly at Bridge of Earn hospital near Perth, where his parents ran a pub. East Fife retained his registration all this time. When he returned to the Bayview club, to the shock of doctors who told him he would never play again, Scot Symon had left to take charge of Rangers.
It was Symon who signed Davis for East Fife from Newburgh. He did so again for Rangers after learning of Davis’ remarkable recovery.
Davis stayed for eight years as a player at Ibrox and later returned to the club as a coach under David White. He was a coach at Queen’s Park and also managed Queen of the South before a spell as assistant manager at Dundee.
He left football to run a hotel in Gairloch in the Highlands with his wife Vi. They continued to live in the area, where Davis could indulge his passion for fly fishing. He was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame in 2009.