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David Lapsley

David Lapsley, footballer; born April 7, 1924, died January 15, 2001

FOR many aspiring footballers born in the 1920s, the Second World War provided a dampening effect on their burgeoning careers.

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Former St Mirren captain Davie Lapsley was one such player for whom Hitler provided a brake in advancing his football potential. Born in Kirkintilloch, it was Bainsford School who were the early beneficiaries of the Lapsley soccer prowess, with his scholastic highlight being the trial he played for the Scottish schoolboys' side. He performed on the juvenile stage as an inside right with High Bonnybridge Rose before taking the junior pathway to Bathgate Thistle in 1940. Called up for service with the Royal Navy, Davie was involved in the D-Day landings, the combined operations duty occupying him on a converted Thames barge in ferrying ammunition across the Channel. Stationed initially in Birkenhead and latterly at Hayling Island, occasional leave allowed the Lapsley talents to be recommended to Falkirk manager Tully Craig. Craig's reaction was somewhat sceptical in the knowledge that no serviceman could be relied upon to turn out on a regular basis. Tully Craig's loss was Bobby Rankine's gain. The St Mirren manager invited Davie to Love Street, his trial being to fire in a penalty at the then Saints custodian, Gordon Rennie. Rennie never saw the ball coming. A St Mirren recruitment form was signed and Davie Lapsley became a one-club man, spending 13 seasons at Love Street. It was as a right back that Davie made his name. The highlight of his career came when he captained St Mirren in their 1959 Scottish Cup final win over Aberdeen. He was gifted as a defender but penalty kicks and free kick opportunities around the box gave Davie the chance to demonstrate his ferocious shooting power. On occasion he was known to burst the net much to the combined consternation of referee and goalkeeper. His dead-ball marks- manship was such that twice he was St Mirren's top scorer. A quiet man with a superb gift of leadership and commitment, allied to a deep sense of humour, Davie Lapsley was a doyen member of the full- back community and was selected on more than 20 occasions as understudy to Rangers' George Young on the international stage. A foundry worker in his post-playing days, Davie lived in the Camelon area of Falkirk. He latterly bore a lengthy illness with typical fortitude and courage, and is survived by his wife, Dinah, his son, Alan, and grandsons, David and Alan.

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