Obituary: Douglas Armstrong, Junior international, dependable left half and part of the great 1950s Hearts squad

Douglas Armstrong, footballer.Born: 30 June, 1925, in Edinburgh. Died: 6 April 2010, in Edinburgh, aged 84.

DOUGLAS Armstrong, who has died aged 84, had both the misfortune and the privilege to be a member of one of the most gifted Heart of Midlothian squads in the club's history.

A dependable left-half, he gave his all when called on, but such was the increasing quality around him that he was rarely guaranteed a place in the team.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

After serving in the Scots Guards during the war, Armstrong, who as a teenager had played for Boroughmuir High School, North Merchiston Boys Club and Edinburgh Ashton Juveniles, joined the junior club Haddington Athletic.

He was capped at junior level thanks to his performances with the East Lothian club, and came to the attention of Hearts, who signed him in January 1948.

A part-time player at first, he also worked as a dental mechanic, and had to wait to be given the chance to make his mark in the Hearts first team.

The opportunity came in 1951, during the club's tour to Germany, and the impact he made there led to his making his competitive debut that October against Rangers.

His biggest contribution to the Tynecastle club came in the 1952-53 season, when he made 23 appearances in league and cup competitions.

He played just one fewer in the following season, which saw Hearts end up as runners-up to Celtic and suggested that under manager Tommy Walker the team was coming ever closer to the major honours which had eluded it for so long.

Unfortunately for Armstrong, when the breakthrough came with victory in the League Cup final of 1954 he was back in the reserves.

Thereafter, his availability was restricted by a cartilage injury, which eventually required surgery at the start of 1956. In April of that year he was transferred to Third Lanark, having made a total of 85 appearances for Hearts, including friendly matches.

His time at Hearts coincided with the rise of the Terrible Trio of Willie Bauld, Alfie Conn and Jimmy Wardhaugh, players whose artistry would lead to their becoming celebrities in Scottish football.

Armstrong never attracted the public adulation which those three and some other team members enjoyed, but he was a valued member of the Hearts squad, nonetheless, and could be relied upon to perform selflessly.