Away From The Numbers

FOLKLORE LEGENDS:

WILLIE LAIRD

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Some people have gone down in Bayview folklore for their goal-scoring exploits, others for their amount of appearances. Willie Laird's place in Bayview folklore results from the important part he played in the Fife's most important triumphs.

Willie Laird
William Laird was born in Carronshore, near Falkirk, in 1918. Brought up in the small town, he played juvenile football with local clubs Bothkennar Rising Star and then Gairdoch. His talents as a right back were very apparent and he built up a reputation for being a courageous tackler. It wasn't long until he was snapped up by East Stirling and he made an immediate impact at Firs Park.

Unfortunately for the 'Shire, the club were soon to be in a crisis state and extinction loomed if the situation wasn't to be sorted out soon. In stepped East Fife with an offer for Willie Laird, which not only helped the situation in Falkirk, it also helped to bolster up the Fife defence.

William Laird signed for the Fife in November 1937, then only months later he appeared at Hampden in the now legendary Scottish Cup Final. This was to be only the start of an amazing medal haul by the talented right-back during his time with the Fife.

After the war, Willie Laird became one of only two players to win Scottish Cup and League Cup Winners' medals with East Fife (Tommy Adams also gaining this distinction).

Willie went one better though, when he collected a second League Cup Final Winners' medal against Dunfermline in 1949/50. That season was also to see him picking up a Scottish Cup Final Runners-Up medal as well, after the 3-0 defeat by Rangers.

Unfortunately, Willie wasn't around to collect a hat-trick of League Cup Final Winners' medals in 53/54, finishing his career at Bayview at the end of the 1950/51 season.

Willie Laird with the League Cup
Willie Laird spent seven full seasons at Bayview between 1937/38 and 1950/51, notching up 219 appearances in the process. In his seven seasons, William collected a Division "B" Championship medal, a Scottish Cup Winners medal, two League Cup Winners medals, and a Supplementary Cup Winners medal. Not a bad haul for a player at a small provincial club like East Fife.

Willie had his critics at the time who described him as being "too wee" which was pretty amazing considering he was 5 ft 10ins!

When Willie was freed by the Fife in 1951 he went on to play one final season before retiring, staying in Fife and joining Dunfermline Athletic.

After retiring from the game, Willie went on to have a career as a catering engineer and kept in touch with East Fife and his former team-mates throughout the years. When asked what made East Fife so good at that time he put it down to the spirit of comradeship amongst the players and the backing the Club got from the whole community.

Willie passed away in September 1999 aged 81.

Willie Laird was one of a number of Fife players at the time whose career was disrupted by the Second World War. Who knows what those six lost seasons would have held in store for him.

One thing that is certain though, is that Willie Laird certainly deserves a place in Bayview folklore and in 2008 he was voted in in the right back slot in AFTN's East Fife All Time Great Pre 1970 side.