An appreciation

DANNY Masterton, who has died suddenly, aged 65, following a heart attack, was a cult hero to the fans of his two main senior clubs, Ayr United and Clyde, mainly because the fans recognised him as “one of them,” a football enthusiast who was delighted to get the chance to play the game he loved at a high level.

He was born, raised and lived almost all his life in Muirkirk, a former ironworks and mining village in East Ayrshire. Leaving the local school, he served his apprenticeship with the National Coal Board, at Lugar Workshops, before working in the ‘day job’ as a mechanical engineer at various local collieries.

However, his real love was his “Saturday job”, where, after impressing with Douglas Amateurs, he signed for Muirkirk Juniors, from where he went senior with Ayr United in 1976.

He spent four seasons with the Honest Men, playing around 100 games and scoring 25 goals, before moving on to Clyde. In four years at the Bully Wee, he scored 67 goals, which places him 11th in the club’s all-time goal-scoring lists. His goals played a big part in Clyde’s Second Division title win, under future Scotland boss Craig Brown, in season 1982-83.

In 1984 he moved to Queen of the South, but, on his debut, he sustained an Achilles tendon injury which forced him into retirement. This came at a bad time for him; the miners’ strike was taking place and in its aftermath, Danny joined the ranks of the redundant former miners. However, he was quickly back at the coal, working on a local opencast coal site.

His final job was running his own distribution company, delivering catalogues and brochures around Scotland.

He also put something back into his home village, having spells as manager of both his old club, Muirkirk Juniors and the local amateur side, Muirkirk Amateurs.

A big, raw-boned centre forward, Danny was ideally suited to the more robust play of those days. He had come through a tough school in the juniors and his ability to mix-it with the no-nonsense defenders of the time made him valuable.

Walker McCall, who played alongside him at Ayr and Clyde said in tribute: “Danny was a terrific strike partner, he gave me a lot of assists, while his ability to keep the central defenders occupied freed up space for me to get into for goals.”

Robert Reilly, who also played alongside him at Clyde said: “Danny was a great team mate off and on the park, particularly off the park, where he was a total gentleman.”

Craig Brown said: “I was privileged to be the manager of Clyde FC when we were fortunate enough to sign Danny from Ayr United. His play at Ayr always impressed me as he had outstanding ability and a great turn of pace.

“No sooner had he joined us at Shawfield than this impression was confirmed. It is often presumed that good strikers, and Danny certainly was one of those, have to be selfish to be successful. Danny was the opposite. He was a real team player and this, together with his friendly, encouraging manner, made him very well liked in the dressing room.

“This popularity extended to the staff and supporters, all of whom correctly thought Danny was an outstanding, kind and considerate human being with an acute sense of humour. His goalscoring exploits apart Danny was well worth the massive loan the Clyde board gave him when he made his modest request: ‘Fur a heater fur ma motur!’

“He didn’t ask for much but he gave plenty.”

Former Scotland internationalist Robert Connor was one of the youth players at Ayr when Danny was in the first team. He said: “Somerset Park back then was a great environment in which to learn the game. Myself, Alan ‘Rambo’ McInally and Stevie Nicol all were fortunate enough to go on to play for Scotland, but, we learned so-much from the experienced pros at Ayr, such as big Danny.

“You wouldn’t believe how docile and friendly Danny was off the park after watching him rampaging around, wild hair flowing behind him as he terrorised centre half’s and goalies all over Scotland. He was the guy you felt you’d known all your life from the moment you met him. Big Danny - one of our heroes.”

Danny had married childhood sweet-heart Christine Hogg, the daughter of the village baker in Muirkirk. They had two children, Sarah, who died last year and Daniel, who survives him, along with his two grand-children.

Daniel, who lives in London and works in security, hit the headlines in 2007 when, while serving with the Royal Marines, he was one of a number of UK servicemen captured by the Iranian authorities in a dispute in the Arabian Gulf.

Christine sadly pre-deceased Danny snr in 2010, but, latterly, he found new happiness with partner Janis, for whom he left Muirkirk to live in Falkirk, where he died suddenly.