Obituary: Drew Busby, striker who was an Airdrie and Hearts fan favorite

Died: July 1, 2022.

DREW BUSBY, who died aged 74, was a footballer who was a fan favorite at every club he represented, especially Hearts, the team he is most associated with, and where he was affectionately nicknamed “Buzz Bomb”.

The nickname was a play on his last name and also the style of play he ran the front line with – unreserved, tenacious and uncompromising. Add his goalscoring ability to the equation and his popularity with the fans was easy to understand.

He also had a knack for forming successful striking partnerships with his teammates, first at Airdrie with Drew Jarvie, then at Hearts with Donald Ford and later Willie Gibson, which enhanced his reputation.

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

Unlike his personality on the pitch, he was very different off the pitch, a gentle, caring and generous spirit always caring for others rather than himself, and devoid of ego.

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

It was at the Vale of Leven Academy that he started to make his mark in football. While in college, he wrote to Coventry City, then under Jimmy Hill, asking for a trial and was signed after a good performance. He scored a few goals for the youth team before homesickness set in and a homecoming loomed.

After being spotted playing amateur football for Dumbarton United, he was signed in February 1967 by Third Lanark, once a successful club but then going through difficult times. He played 11 games and scored his last goal in senior football, against Dumbarton in April 1967, shortly before Thirds’ demise.

Still harboring hopes of a career in the game, he once played for Partick Thistle before joining Vale of Leven Juniors for three seasons, with the team sweeping everything 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 side, where his partnership with future international Drew Jarvie paid immediate dividends, each scoring 24 goals in their first season together then that they reached the semi-final of the Scottish Cup. -final, where Celtic needed two games to defeat them.

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

Following relegation the following 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 only spent three seasons at Airdrie, his contribution was later recognized by his 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”.

Despite not winning any silverware in his six years at Tynecastle, Busby played arguably his best football and entrenched himself in the affection of the fans, which was again reflected in his induction later in the club’s hall of fame. He played 256 competitive games for the Edinburgh side, scoring 84 goals, appeared in three Scottish Cup semi-finals, two League Cup semi-finals and the European Cup final. Scotland in 1976, won by Rangers.

He scored the only goal of the encounter when Hearts beat Everton in the 1974 Texaco Cup and also scored in Lokomotiv Leipzig’s famous European Cup Winners’ Cup at Tynecastle in 1977, winning 5-1 after lost 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 the Toronto Blizzard in the North American Football League for two seasons. He then played for Morton for two seasons before ending his career as a player/manager at Queen of the South, retiring in 1984.

He enjoyed a long and happy marriage to Annette Hunter, whom he met when they both worked at Burrough’s accounting machine factory in Dumbarton. They were married on July 7, 1969 at Dumbarton Baptist Church and had two children, Alan and Gail. Initially they settled in Dumbarton before moving to Alexandria, where they remained.

After football, Drew entered the licensed business, first at Red Row Bar, Renton, then acquiring the Waverley Bar in Dumbarton, which he “practically” ran until recently. An excellent publican, he was held in high esteem by customers and staff, as evidenced by the many warm tributes on social media. Helpful, generous and welcoming to all, he created a friendly and safe community atmosphere in his bar, which underpinned his success.

He was a devoted grandfather to Lauchie, Lewis and Lyle. Besides family and football, interests included keeping fit, golf and hiking, completing the ascent of various Munros. He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.

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