(First published on Facebook on March 11th, 2016)
No, not the Permed Pundit but David Provan, the Rangers defender from the sixties who will be 75 today. In the 1960’s there was a clear lineage of full backs that went through the decade, starting with the likes of Duncan Mackay of Celtic and Eric Caldow of Rangers and moving to Alex Hamilton of Dundee, Eddie McCreadie of Chelsea and Tommy Gemmell of Celtic, so it was rare for others to get that chance to shine. David Provan was given that chance on five occasions.
David’s first cap came in October, 1963 under Ian McColl as Scotland faced Northern Ireland in a Home International in Belfast. Scotland lost 2-1 with Ian St. John netting for Scotland, Alex Hamilton of Dundee played full back on the right to David being on the left.
They would be paired up a month later as Scotland and Denis Law in particular ran riot at Hampden against Norway with Denis scoring four goals and Dave Mackay hitting a brace to win 6-1.
Jim Kennedy of Celtic was then given a run in the team for a few games until Eddie McCreadie made his debut in April, 1965 and generally made the left back spot himself.
However, one surmises that injury kept Eddie out of the team in November, 1965 when Scotland faced Italy at home in a vital World Cup Qualifier and so Jock Stein drafted in Provan for the left back position, making their debuts that night were Ronnie McKinnon of Rangers and Bobby Murdoch of Celtic. However, it would be another Rangers player, who would grab the headlines as John Greig scored the only goal in the 88th minute to keep Scotland’s World Cup hopes alive.
John Greig had often been used as a full back for Scotland but with the side depleted by injuries for the away game against Italy; Greig was pushed into midfield and with the right full back position vacant Stein chose Provan once more. In an attempt to confuse the Italians, Scotland started with Ron Yeats of Liverpool wearing the number nine but those crafty Italians got wise to the act, that he was really a centre half and managed to get three past him and the rest of the Scotland defence in Naples. Goodbye World Cup ’66.
David’s final game came in John Prentice’s flawed idea of a line up, when he played a team made of home based players for a friendly v Netherlands featuring no Celtic players; the team who had just won the league. Scotland got pumped 3-0 at Hampden.
David would leave Rangers in 1970 for Crystal Palace where he would play only one game before going on to Plymouth Argyle for five seasons before returning to Scotland and playing briefly for St. Mirren. He would go on to manage for Albion Rovers for years in the late eighties and indeed would lead them to the 1988-89 Second Division Championship.
(The football card in the picture is from the 1969/70 blue backed Scottish A&BC set and a great wee set it is).
Happy Birthday and all the best