Alan Davidson joined Queens in 1982 and made 364 first team appearances over two spells. Affectionately nicknamed ’Barney’, an excellent all round keeper, he was goallie in the 1985/86 promotion campaign. Davidson was something of a penalty saving specialist - he was a hero of Queens’ first ever penalty shoot out when QoS were on a run to the 1990 League Cup quarter finals. A popular player with team mates and fans, he was also a character of some enigma.
Alan Davidson was born into a football family. His father, Bobby Davidson, was Scotland’s most highly distinguished referee of his era something akin to what Hugh Dallas has been in more recent times. Davidson senior refereed a total of four games from the 1962, 1970 and 1974 World Cups. In West Germany in 1974 he refereed what is a well remembered game by those who watched from the fluid and attractive football played by Johan Cruyff and Netherlands in defeating Argentina 4-0. There was considerable speculation in the Scottish media that Davidson would be asked to referee the 1974 final game itself. However that honour went to England’s Jack Taylor.
Bob Davidson was also a linesman during games at each of these tournaments. The highest profile of the games in which he filled this role was the final itself in 1962. This was won 3-1 by Brazil beating Czechoslovakia, the team who needed a play off to eliminate Scotland in the qualification phase to reach the finals. He was also in charge of England v Rest of the World (2-1 to England), in October 1963 marking The Football Association centenary. His biggest club game was refereeing the 1975 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final. The score was Dinamo Kiev 3, Ferencváros 0, with Oleg Blokhin scoring.
Alan Davidson was playing junior football for Royal Albert in Larkhall before spending the second half of the 1979/80 season with Celtic. There was irony of this in light of who is father was as the similarities to Hugh Dallas didn’t end with officiating in matches on the world stage. Bob Davidson wasn’t the most popular of figures in his day with many in the Celtic support.
Alan Davidson then returned to Royal Albert but was very quickly picked up by Airdrieonians, the club for whom his father became a director. John Martin however was at the start of his 19 year playing career there. Davidson ended up as understudy playing 10 games in two seasons. Davidson then moved on in search of first team football. Queen of the South were looking for a suitable replacement for the ageing record appearance holder at the club, Allan Ball. Davidson signed on in August 1982 with considerable shoes to fill. To quote a comment from QoS Historian, Ian Black, Davidson, “Carried on the great tradition of Queens having excellent keepers.”
Ross Corbett, Travel Club Chairman, said in a 2007 interview with Bill Goldie.
"Alan Davidson in his first spell here, how he never received a Scotland ’call-up’ is beyond belief. One save which stood out was a Gordon Banks like save at old Broomfield against Airdrie.”
“An unforgettable cup encounter was the 1-1 draw with Hearts at Palmerston in front of a large crowd which created a noisy atmosphere by both sets of fans. That was in January, 1983, and the performance of our keeper ’Barney’ Davidson that day was brilliant!”
Corbett added, “He always had time for the fans and used to make sure we were looked after on the team bus home when we were ’hitching’ it up to games.”
Nobby Clark, among the most cerebral of ex QoS players and also ex Manager of the keeper with the David Hasselhoff haircut:
“Make no mistake, Alan Davidson is well worthy of being a Queen of the South Legend. Ten years plus at any club and making over 350 appearances is a phenomenal record. But while his playing record is a main statistic, the other features of Alan in relation to the dressing room, at training and socially made him a crucial part of the squad as a fellow player and as a player playing for me as a manager. I have just replayed a Border TV feature on myself and a Queen of the South game when Alan was interviewed after the ninety minutes with the conversation going as follows:
Interviewer - ’You must be very proud of your own personal record?’”
“Alan - ’Well ah am, but I think a lot of credit has got to go to my own back four, Bobby Parker especially and Kevin (Hetherington). The saves I have had to make has probably caused about eight of the goals I let in.......’”
Clark continued, “So modesty can also be added to his qualities and probably surprising, a bit of shyness as well. As a ’keeper he had all the qualities. Good kicker, took crosses and had a presence in his goalmouth. He had the perfect physique for a goalkeeper and he used it well to provide assurance around his goalmouth and for his defenders. At training he was enthusiastic and gave 100%. Socially he was a riot, and he gave 100%. In the dressing room he had a presence which provided a confidence and all these qualities contributed to him being a crucial player in the 1985/86 promotion winning team.”
“His curly hair and cheeky outlook also gave him further qualities, and if he had fans out on the terracings adoring him, he also had plenty in the dressing room doing likewise. As is always the case, teams change through various circumstances, but when you see how Dunfermline progressed as a rival team from that 1985/86 season, and Queen of the South had arguably better players, it is a travesty that the whole team structure could not have been retained for another couple of seasons. Players like Alan Davidson would have thrived, as his whole make up on and off the pitch was of a similar status as is afforded to players who are currently being transferred and being paid at celebrity status fortunes.”
Tommy Bryce, inaugural QoS Hall of Famer, “The first two seasons I was there Barney was the goalkeeper, an excellent goal keeper. But like all goalkeepers they’ve got their daft streak. Aye he was, he was as mad as a brush, but a very, very nice guy. I haven’t seem him for years now, probably similar to big Jimmy Robertson right enough, I haven’t seem him either. I know the two of them used to be quite friendly, I don’t know if they’ve seen each other at all. But yeah, a very, very good keeper and I think he was instrumental in us getting promoted in the season we did get promoted, 1986. I think due to the fact, obviously we’d a good side at that time. But the back bone of the side was obviously defensively and we did have that with Barney, and the likes of Bobby Parker and Kevin Hetherington and that. Barney contributed quite a lot to the fact that we got promoted.”
For all Davidson’s goalkeeping excellence, Bryce commented further on Barney’s ‘daft streak’. “Many times in a game and my heart was in my mouth. He was absolutely crazy at driving. He was as daft as could be, he’d get up to all sort of pranks in the dressing room. He was definitely a prankster in the dressing room, him and the likes of Jimmy Robertson. He was a good character and he was good to have around the dressing room. He was actually very good, we used to go, we trained at Bishopbriggs, Billy Reid, his old man was the janitor at one of the secondary schools there. I can’t remember if it was a Thursday night or that we trained there. He was actually a pretty good outfield player as well. He kicked with both feet and he had an excellent shot, with his right foot, so his goal kicking was superb. That certainly helped and obviously it would help even more in the game today where keepers aren’t allowed to pick up pass backs or anything like that, which you were during the olden days as they say. He was good outfield as well as he was in goals. He was definitely an excellent keeper, probably one of the best I’ve played with. He comes probably up there along with Jim Gallacher at Clydebank [father of Paul, another goallie], and I can’t say any higher than that, ‘cause again he was an excellent keeper. And a nice guy and I’ve got a lot of time for him, Barney. Very difficult to tie down, he always was.”
George Cloy as well as being a fellow long serving team mate is the man who once replaced Davidson in goals when he went of injured. So jovial when interviewed for his own article in Queens Legends, he adopted a much more serious tone when asked to comment on Davidson. “Barney was a bloody good goalkeeper, and an all right guy.”
Billy Reid, in another Bill Goldie interview: "I was in the squad that won promotion under Nobby Clark in 1986 and I’ll never forget the celebrations at Arbroath after winning the game which took us up. We’d some good players then - Alan Davidson in goal; Jimmy Robertson on the wing who could turn a game at the drop of a hat; wee Tommy Bryce who was a real goal machine and my partner on the right flank, Graeme Robertson.”
Davidson left Queens to spend 1988 and 89 in Australia with Perth club, Floreat Athena, a side unsurprisingly originally formed by players of Greek heritage. Their best known ex player is Stan Lazaridis from the early 90s. Davidson’s arrival coincided with the club’s first ‘golden period’. Having achieved little before, Floreat were a team on the ascent when Davidson pitched up, having finished third in the two seasons prior to his arrival. Davidson’s presence turned Floreat from up coming also rans into champions, claiming their second ever Western Australia Premier League title. Davidson’s team topped the league again in his second season but rather than top of the league deciding the title, a new top four finals play off was used to decide. Floreat lost in the final to Perth Italia. After Davidson’s departure his ex club endured exactly the same fate for the next two seasons – top of the league but losers in the play off final to their arch rivals.
Davidson returned to Palmerston after his two seasons in the sun. Ex QoS Captain, Kevin Hetherington, again from a Bill Goldie interview, commented on the 1990 League Cup run, "It was called the Skol Cup at that time and we travelled all the way to Montrose only to draw 0-0, but Andy Thomson and Jimmy McGuire scored in extra time and we won 2-1. In the next round at home to Dundee we again finished level, even after extra time, but we won through in the first ever penalty shoot out at Palmerston. Alan Davidson was our hero, saving two penalties, but I won the Man of the Match award and I still have it to this day.”
"In round three it got even better when we beat Premier League Dunfermline at East End Park, winning 2-1. Two Dumfries lads were in their team that night, Davie Irons and [future QoS] manager, Ian McCall. I wonder if the pair of them remember it. It was then Celtic in the quarter finals at Parkhead and we were all excited - only 90 minutes away from a semi-final! It was 1-1 going into the last ten minutes but Joe Miller scored seven minutes from time to end our dream".
(Davidson and his team mates celebrate a pre-season Border Cup win)
Playing under Ally MacLeod among others, Davidson was with Queens until February 1994 followed by a short spell in the North of Ireland with Ards. He then returned to Lanarkshire the following summer this time joining Albion Rovers. He gradually dropped out of the scene at Rovers and so in 1997 he joined Kirkintilloch Rob Roy. In September 1998 he signed for Martin Clark (son of European Cup winning John), at Armadale Thistle after first choice goallie Peter Davis received a 6 year ban.
As well as the comments used in this feature, numerous others have been interviewed for qosfc.com who in commenting on Queens in the mid 80s, Davidson is consistently mentioned for his abilities between the sticks. Ted McMinn, Barry Nicholson, Jimmy Robertson…
Alan Davidson’s 364 first team appearances for Queen of the South place him 10th in the club’s all time appearances list. A goalkeeping distinction was his equaling the club record four consecutive shut outs (George Farm, Allan Ball, David Purdie and David Hutton have also achieved this).
1979/80 - Royal Albert (Junior football)
1979/80 - Celtic (1st tier) 0 app
1980/81 - Royal Albert (Junior football)
1980/81 - Airdrie (1st tier) 1 app
1981/82 - Airdrie (2nd tier) 9 app
1982/83 - Queen of the South (3rd tier) 39 app
1983/84 - Queen of the South (3rd tier) 39 app
1984/85 - Queen of the South (3rd tier) 27 app
1985/86 - Queen of the South (3rd tier) 39 app
1986/87 - Queen of the South (2nd tier) 38 app
1987/88 - Queen of the South (2nd tier) 29 app
1988 - Floreat Athena (WAPL)
1989 - Floreat Athena (WAPL)
1989/90 - Queen of the South (3rd tier) 24 app
1990/91 - Queen of the South (3rd tier) 32 app
1991/92 - Queen of the South (3rd tier) 23 app
1992/93 - Queen of the South (3rd tier) 8 app
1993/94 - Queen of the South (3rd tier) 14 app
1994/95 - Albion Rovers (3rd tier) 21 app
1995/96 - Albion Rovers (3rd tier) 1 app
Subsequent to the original publication of this article we have now made contact with Barney himself. We will be updating this feature with Alan Davidson’s own comments.
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