Happy Birthday to Arthur Albiston who will be 59 on July 14th. (Happy Bastille Day to all French Revolutionaries and Rush fans too). Arthur probably couldn’t be described an exciting left back; more dependable and a good man to have in your team. He must have been, as Manchester United played him 485 times! As for Scotland, in comparison, a meagre 14. Perhaps Arthur was a bit unlucky, as Frank Gray had made the left back berth his own partnering Danny McGrain for a few years and then Maurice Malpas appeared on the scene. Of course, there is the fact that Jock Stein gave five caps to Ally Dawson in this period too, which maybe Arthur and the rest of us shouldn’t forgive. Mind you his main rival for the left back position at Man. U. for a few years, Stewart Houston only gained a solitary cap in his time too.
Arthur’s first cap came against Northern Ireland in April, 1982 in a dull 1-1 draw. John Wark scored for Scotland whilst Arthur’s Man Utd. teammate Sammy McIlroy netted for the Irish. It was probably a bad time to make your debut, if you were hoping for a World Cup place a month or so later. Jock Stein discarded Arthur at this point as Frank Gray came back into the team; Danny McGrain and George Burley completed the full back cover for Spain ’82.
His next game was in September, 1983 against Uruguay and he would go on to play in ten of the next twelve Internationals. In one of the games he missed, his place was taken up by Doug Rougvie for his sole cap and in the other Maurice Malpas was given his debut.
The Uruguay game also saw the debut of Paul McStay, as Scotland won 2 nil with goals from John Robertson and ‘Elephant Man’ Davie Dodds who was making his debut that night too.
Among the highlights for Arthur must have been that amazing game where Scotland beat Yugoslavia 6-1 in front of a crowd of only 18,512. Of course, this had to be the one night there was no real TV coverage due to industrial action IIRC. There is grainy footage on You Tube though. There is no truth in the rumour, that this game set in motion the disruption of Yugoslavia few years such was the beating we gave them. (A hell of a beating Marshall Tito)
Arthur must have also enjoyed the next two games as Scotland beat; first Iceland 3 nil a month later and then shortly after that, came the night Mo Johnston put the Spaniards to the sword scoring a double in a memorable 3-1 win in World Cup Qualifiers. Not so much happy memories for the Wales game in March ’85 when we lost to them at Hampden, which saw Arthur lose his place to Maurice Malpas and never really regain it. He would play in a friendly against East Germany in Alex Ferguson’s first game in charge and then in the final World Cup warm up against Netherlands in April ’86.
However, Arthur had one last game for Scotland at the Estadio Neza in Nezahualcoytl in one of the most frustrating games ever. Uruguay had a player sent off after 56 seconds and we thought that’s it we’re on our way to the second round but what followed was a travesty of a football match; as Uruguay dug in and weren’t afraid to put the boot in. As for Scotland we barely strung two passes together and that’s was it. Adios Scotland and Adios Arthur Albiston.
Happy Birthday Arthur and all the best.