THE death of Hastie Weir will be greeted with sadness everywhere in Scottish football circles but most especially at Hampden Park and at Motherwell where he was a mature and calming presence in that wonderful Motherwell side known for all time as the Ancell Babes.

S H Weir was brought up in the Salsburgh district and served a normal apprenticeship for those days in the junior ranks, Baillieston being his chosen club. In 1949 he signed for Queen's Park and, after a two-year wait, took over from Ronnie Simpson as the first-team keeper at the beginning of the1950-51 season. He would hold this post for the next four years, with the exception of a spell when he lost his place to Morton Ramsey through injury.

Queen's Park were then a good-going Second Division side with legitimate aspirations to promotion to the top grade - they would, ironically, achieve this not long after Hastie moved to Motherwell. Before that, his consistent displays - in particular a spectacular performance at Wembley in an amateur international against England which the Scots eventually won 4-1 - brought him to the notice of the professional clubs. Motherwell came in for him and he turned professional on August 3, 1954.

He was to spend eight years at Fir Park in a career where his first four years differed drastically from the last four. He was going to take over from John Johnstone, a fine keeper in a legendary defence where Willie Kilmarnock and Archie Shaw were the full backs and Charlie Cox, Andrew Paton, and Willie Redpath the half backs. All were players of high repute, all assisted in the tightening up of the young amateur keeper with advice which was as sound as it was terse, and all had their best days behind them.

There is a paradox in that Hastie Weir was to play for a superb side which won nothing. Within months of arriving at Motherwell he was at Hampden in a League Cup final, but an eager young Hearts side ran the legs off the elder statesmen and won 4-2. Motherwell were relegated in 1955 but were saved by league reconstruction. Before Bobby Ancell gambled gloriously and successfully on youth, Hastie Weir was involved in one of the great Scottish football stories. In a cup tie at Motherwell, Queen's Park were a goal up but under the hammer. Somehow they stayed ahead and then a long ball out of defence found Willie ''Junior'' Omand. The bounce beat the ageing Willie Kilmarnock and Junior, clever but no greyhound, was away. Behind him toiled Kilmarnock and from goal out rushed the bridegroom-to-be Hastie Weir to try to foil his best man of three days hence, Junior Omand. The latter kept his head,

scored the clincher, and, after the match, had to persuade his career-long friend to forgive him.

When Bobby Ancell came Hastie Weir's role changed to that of senior man. No medals perhaps, but he played in probably the finest pure footballing side that Scotland has ever produced. They beat Rangers four times in a season, scoring five against them in a replayed Scottish Cup tie at Ibrox. Aitken and McCann supplied class at wing-half and forward. With the two Reids, St John, Hunter, Quinn, and the other Weir, Andy, it was perm any five from six.

The best sides from Europe came to play this Motherwell team and almost 20,000 spectators turned out to see them beat Bilbao and the Brazilian side Flamengo, a side that Ian St John and myself regard as one of the best teams we have ever seen despite the emphatic 9-2 margin.

I spoke of his calming influence and it is that which has stayed with me. The French have an expression ''to be comfortable in your skin'' and it was the unflamboyant efficiency of his keeping which I remember. Deceptively tall, he had few of the pyrotechnics of the young Ronnie Simpson, but he was good at marshalling a defence and he had plenty to do in a side which was so dedicated to attack that, inevitably, gaps would be left.

All things seemed possible to this Motherwell side but the club made the classic mistake, which it had resisted in the thirties, of

selling its stars to build a stand. One by one Hastie Weir saw his frontline colleagues drift away as St John went, then Quinn, following Sammy Reid, and later Bobby Roberts.

The great team disintegrated and Hastie Weir's playing days were coming to an end. He had always had a civilian career as it were, holding an executive position with Martin Black, the well-known Monklands firm. He was increasingly being required to travel and top grade football was becoming incompatible with his work.

While on a business trip to the Far East he sustained horrendous injuries in an industrial accident and underwent operations and then intensive nursing in Bangkok. He endured a long convalescence with the courage and steadfastness he had brought to his goalkeeping. He made the transition to the tighter requirements of professional football with great adaptability and on his visits to Fir Park in recent years he notably refused to say that there was nothing good in the modern game.

He may have won no medals but to have been judged good enough to have played in that Motherwell side is sufficient distinction for any man.

Bob Crampsey