Footballer and manager at Partick Thistle

Born: May 5, 1935;

Died: July 14, 2018

DAVIE McParland, who has died aged 83, was a legendary footballer and manager at Partick Thistle who played for the club 584 times and, as manager between 1970 and 1974, famously led them to promotion in his first season. His death came just one day after the announcement that Partick Thistle's new training ground would be named after him.

Although he had spells coaching at other clubs, it with the Jags that McParland is immediately linked by football fans everywhere. As a player, initially a lightning-quick winger, latterly a scheming wing-half, he scored 109 goals in the 1950s and 1960s before moving upstairs as coach, then manager. He is, quite-rightly, a member of the Partick Thistle Hall of Fame.

In this role, he had immediate success, guiding the Jags to an unforgettable League Cup win over Celtic in 1971. The signs of this were evident, the previous season, his first as manager. He had succeeded Scot Symon, who moved up to be general manager. Thistle had been relegated to the Second Division, but, as second team coach and assistant manager, he was aware of the many good young players in the reserves, youngsters such as Alan Rough, who were ready to break through.

The pay-off was swift, the Second Division title in season 1970-71 then at the start of the following season, a run to the final of the League Cup, and that unforgettable 4-1 win over Celtic in the final, a result so unexpected, Scotsman Sam Leitch, on the BBC's Grandstand programme refused to believe the result when it came over the teleprinter and insisted the Jags had lost 4-1.

But, of course, they had won, and boy did they celebrate.

McParland had arrived at Firhill from another clump of Thistles, of the Larkhall variety, in November, 1953. He was fielded as a trialist against Airdrie, but so impressed then manager Davie Meiklejohn, he was signed immediately afterwards quickly breaking into the Jags' first team.

In February, 1955, he was chosen at outside left in the first Scotland under-23 team, but this was not an occasion he would have cared to dwell on, as the Scots lost 6-0 to England, at Shawfield. Later in his career, he would earn three Scottish League “caps”, against the Italian League and the League of Ireland in 1962, and again against the League of Ireland in 1964.

He left Thistle in June, 1974, following a fall-out with the board of directors, crossing the city to become head coach at Queen's Park – the first holder of that position to have team selection responsibilities.

In 1976, Jock Stein invited him to join Celtic as his assistant, with Sean Fallon concentrating on scouting duties. The move paid off immediately; Stein was still recovering from his near-fatal car crash, so the bulk of the day-to-day training supervision fell on McParland, who, with Stein overseeing, guided the club to a league and cup double in 1977.

The following campaign did not go as well and, at the end of it, Celtic made the still-controversial decision to dispense with Stein's and McParland's services. Stein went to Leeds then Scotland, while McParland became Hamilton Academical manager.

He spent four years at Douglas Park, before stepping back from front-line management and concentrating on youth development, with, in turn, Airdrie, Dunfermline and Motherwell.

His final active role in football was as director of football at Dumbarton in 2001 and 2002, after which, he retired.

Having been in poor health for some time, he is survived by his wife Terry and daughters Yvonne, Tracy and Hazel and their children.

Paying tribute to him, Robert Reid, “Mr Partick Thistle”, said: “David is a massive figure in the club's history, as a player, coach and manager. His feat of taking a relegated team, turning them around inside a season then, winning a major trophy, which for us happens about once every 50 years, cannot be under-estimated.

“Early on in his managerial career we lost three straight away games, at Clydebank, Albion Rovers and Brechin and we on the board were a wee bit worried that the young team might falter. But, David told me: 'It will be ok Robert, you wait and see;' I don't think we lost another game that season. Then, once back up, we beat Rangers in the League, then Celtic in the League Cup in short order.

“But, David knew the quality of the young players he was working with, Alan Rough, the Hansen brothers, Jimmy Bone. I am so glad we were able to tell him about the decision to name the new training ground McParland Park, before we lost him.”