Born: December 8, 1947;

Died: July 1, 2022.

DREW BUSBY, who has died aged 74, was a footballer who was a fans’ favourite at all the clubs he represented, especially at Hearts, the team with which he is most associated, and where he was affectionately known as “Buzz Bomb”.

The nickname was a play on his surname and also on the playing style with which he led the forward line – wholehearted, tenacious and uncompromising. Add to the equation his goalscoring ability, and his popularity with the fans was easy to understand.

He also had the knack of forming successful striking partnerships with team-mates, initially at Airdrie with Drew Jarvie, and then at Hearts with Donald Ford and later Willie Gibson, which enhanced his reputation.

During a long career that began with now-defunct Third Lanark before moving to Partick Thistle, Airdrie, Hearts,Toronto Blizzard, Morton and Queen of the South, he played more than 550 games, scoring over 150 goals. While silky soccer may not have been his forte, his contribution to team performance was first-rate and consistent.

In contrast to his on-pitch persona, he was very different off the pitch, a gentle, caring, generous spirit always concerned for others rather than himself, and bereft of ego.

Andrew Douglass Busby was born in Glasgow to parents John and Mary and brought up with his siblings in Tulliechewan in the Vale of Leven, near Alexandria. Busby Snr was an engineer’s assistant but died when Drew was eight.

It was at Vale of Leven Academy that he began making his mark in football. While at school he wrote to Coventry City, then under Jimmy Hill’s managership, asking for a trial and was signed following a good performance. He scored some goals for the youth side before homesickness kicked in and a return home beckoned.

After being spotted playing amateur football for Dumbarton United he was signed in February 1967 by Third Lanark, once a thriving club but by then experiencing hard times. He played 11 games and scored their last goal in senior football, against Dumbarton in April 1967, shortly before Thirds went out of existence.

Still harbouring hopes of a career in the game, he played once for Partick Thistle before joining Vale of Leven Juniors for three seasons, with the team sweeping all before them in Drew’s final season, when he scored a record 57 goals.

His senior career took off properly in June 1970 when he signed for Airdrie, then a top-tier team, where his partnership with future international Drew Jarvie paid immediate dividends, each scoring 24 goals in their first season together as they reached the Scottish Cup semi-final, where Celtic needed two games to overcome them.

The following season Airdrie reached the Texaco Cup Final, a cross-border competition, losing narrowly to Derby County over two legs, having previously disposed of Manchester City, Huddersfield Town and Ballymena United, with Busby scoring in each of those ties.

Following relegation the next season, Hearts signed Drew in May 1973 for a club record fee of £35,000 in what would be a significant career move. Although he spent only three seasons at Airdrie his contribution was later recognised with induction into the club’s Hall of Fame; at his funeral, a message from Jarvie recalled how their “partnership complemented each other and Drew’s power and determination helped me look good”.

While he did not win any silverware during his six years at Tynecastle, Busby arguably played his best football and embedded himself in the fans’ affections, again reflected in his subsequent induction into the club’s Hall of Fame. He played 256 competitive matches for the Edinburgh side, scoring 84 goals, featured in three Scottish Cup semi-finals, two League Cup semi-finals and the 1976 Scottish Cup final, won by Rangers.

He scored the only goal of the tie when Hearts defeated Everton in the 1974 Texaco Cup and also netted in the famous European Cup-Winners’ Cup trouncing of Lokomotiv Leipzig at Tynecastle in 1977, winning 5-1 after losing the first leg 2-0.

Relegation that season was followed by immediate promotion but in 1979 the club was relegated again, leading to Busby joining Toronto Blizzard in the North American Soccer League for two seasons. He then played for Morton for two seasons before winding up his career as player/manager at Queen of the South, retiring in 1984.

He enjoyed a long and happy marriage with Annette Hunter, whom he met while both were working at the Burrough’s accounting machines factory in Dumbarton. They married on July 7, 1969 at Dumbarton Baptist Church, and went on to have two children, Alan and Gail. Initially they set up home in Dumbarton before moving to Alexandria, where they remained.

After football Drew entered the licensed trade, first at the Red Row Bar, Renton and then acquiring the Waverley Bar in Dumbarton, which he ran “hands on” until recently. An excellent publican, he was held in high regard by customers and staff, whose numerous warm tributes on social media reflect that. Helpful, generous and welcoming to all, he created a friendly and safe community feel to his bar, which underpinned its success.

He was a devoted grandfather to Lauchie, Lewis and Lyle. Apart from family and football, interests included keeping fit, playing golf and hillwalking, completing the ascent of various Munros. He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildre