Chris Shevlane

Born: May 6, 1942;

Died: March 13, 2023

Chris Shevlane who has died aged 80, was a successful Scottish footballer with Hearts, Celtic, Hibs and Morton. An early example of an attacking full back whose forceful runs down the wing and uncompromising defending made him popular with fans, his career might have reached greater heights but for injury problems.

He seemed destined to reach the very top till ankle issues in 1967 led to medical advice to give up the game and Hearts giving him a free transfer. Fortunately, he resisted that advice and following a lot of swimming training to strengthen his ankles obtained a more optimistic medical opinion which convinced Jock Stein to sign him for Celtic, essentially as cover for the then recently crowned European champions.

His early promise at Hearts saw him selected four times for Scotland under-23s, twice as captain and twice for the Scottish League in addition to being a member of the Scotland squad for the John White testimonial game in 1964. He captained Hearts, played in Europe, United States and Africa with both capital clubs and was a signing target for top English teams including Liverpool and Chelsea when at Tynecastle.

At Hibs he was affectionately known to fans as The Shev, was in their League Cup Final team in 1969 and was the club’s Player of the Year in 1970. Thereafter he wound down his career with Morton for a couple of seasons before retiring in 1973. Despite injury problems he played over 250 games in the top league here.

After football he entered the licensed trade, acquiring the eponymous Shevlane’s Bar in Springburn, Glasgow in 1980 where he was much appreciated and highly regarded.

Anthony Christopher Shevlane was born in Morrison Street, Edinburgh, to parents Anthony and Barbara, originally from County Mayo, Ireland. Father Anthony worked as a labourer and although money was tight, Chris was brought up in a warm and supportive household along with older brother Patrick as the family moved to nearby Spittal Street.

After St Peter’s primary school he attended St Anthony’s secondary where his love of football grew. Games at school and in the Meadows provided a good foundation before signing for well-known juvenile side, Edina Hearts, where his form caught the eye of Tynecastle manager Tommy Walker. Chris aged 17 signed provisionally for Hearts who farmed him out to junior side, Loanhead Mayflower to further his development while he worked as an apprentice bookbinder.

In late 1960 he was called up to the senior squad playing initially in the reserves before making his debut against St Mirren in April 1963. He made rapid progress as part of a fabled back three of Cruickshank, Shevlane and Holt, becoming a first choice full back who could play either side. His consistently impressive displays attracted the attention of national selectors and he was chosen later that year for Scotland under-23s against Wales and England while he also featured for the Scottish League in a trial match against a Scotland XI at Ibrox.

By mid 1964 Liverpool had increased their offer for Chris to £35,000 with Hearts refusing to sell while an end of season highlight was Chris’s selection as captain of Scotland under-23s against France in Nantes, the team recording a worthy 2-0 win. Another highlight was playing for the Maroons in the New York summer tournament against top foreign opposition.

Under his captaincy the following season Hearts were unlucky to lose the league title on miniscule goal average while Chris’s representative career concluded with an appearance for the Scottish League against the League of Ireland and a final game for Scotland under-23s against Wales, with him captaining the team to a resounding 3-0 win.

Although he only managed four games during his year at Celtic, he made the most important ‘match’ of his life there, meeting future wife Colette Smith through the club. The couple wed in June 1970 in St. Mungo’s Church in Townhead, Glasgow and enjoyed a long happy marriage during which they had Laura, Paul and Nicola.

Next he joined Hibs where despite his Tynecastle history, he was popular with the fans who admired his energetic style of play. He contributed to their European Fairs Cup campaign in games against Malmo, Lokomotiv Leipzig and Hamburg among others and in 1969 helped them reach the League Cup Final.

Once in the licensed trade Chris learned the ropes at the Calypso Bar in Kelvingrove, thereafter taking over the Terminus Bar in Springburn before buying the Victoria Bar there and renaming it Shevlane’s, which remains a family concern. He worked hard to make it a well-run bar and successful business.

Chris was first and foremost a family man who he loved being around. Apart from family and business, he enjoyed golf and was a member at Cawder Golf Club at Bishopbriggs. He also played table tennis and badminton and followed rugby once son Paul started playing.

He is survived by his wife, children, brother and seven grandchildren.