IT WOULD be hard to find anyone who did not like Brian Whittaker, who died in a car crash on Sunday. As a player with Partick Thistle, Celtic, Hearts, and Falkirk, Brian made a host of friends but also had the greater gift of keeping them.

If any word fits snugly around Whittaker, gregarious would have to be it. Brian loved the company of people, footballers in particular but not exclusively.

He played his first senior game for Partick Thistle as a 19-year-old against Clyde in 1975 and went on to become the epitome of Firhill footballers, talented, zany and immensely likeable.

His move to Celtic in 1983 probably came too late to hoist him into the higher echelons where his natural talent ought to have blossomed.

Had it come four years or so earlier there is every chance he would have gone a great deal further than he did. As it was, after a year he moved to Hearts and was still their player-cum-commercial manager when he joined Falkirk.

A left back of style and class, Brian perhaps was a little before his time as a player at the top professional level, in that he was a wing back before the term had been invented. So left-footed was he that it is difficult to recall him making any serious contribution with his right foot but he had enough delicacy in his good boot that it never proved a problem.

After he ended his playing days he became a successful agent with a growing number of clients and was still very much welcome at Tynecastle where he spent most of his later playing days.

Friendly, with a great sense of fun which stretched readily to self mockery, Brian Whittaker leaves those of us who knew him feeling the better for it.