Legends - Crawford Boyd

Crawford Boyd was a pivotal defender for Queen of the South in the 1970s. After leaving to spend a season and a half with Hearts, Boyd returned for the run in of the 1980/81 promotion campaign. In total Boyd made 321 QoS first team appearances.

Providing an interview for this article in June 2009, Crawford Boyd has been kind enough to assist since in finalising the feature and contributing photos. Boyd came across very much as measured, considered and objective. There was, without exception, a pause prior to every answer he gave so that each response was thought through. Boyd was also candidly honest in his assessment of himself. This is what he had to say about his career.

(Crawford Boyd collects the 1978/79 QoS Supporters Club player of the year award)

“Born in 1952 in Kilwinning. The road to Palmerston was Boys Brigade, Port Glasgow Rangers, Largs Thistle, Queen of the South. I played a trial against Hurlford. It was like a Queen's reserve team that was organised, I was playing in that. The manager was a guy called Jim Easton.”

Signing talks:

"Willie Harkness. Somebody must have had scouts in this kind of area, somebody must have recommended me to Queen's.”

Boyd was offered terms, he signed on the dotted line, as simple as that.

QoS debut:

“1972, I got into the team right away and there was an old [format] League Cup section; Aberdeen, Hibs, Queen's Park, Queen of the South; a wee kind of a difference from playing in front of 200 or 300 people to play in front of thousands.”

Boyd then gave the low down on his favourite games as a QoS player.

“Ayr United, the one that was in the Scottish Cup. Played them at Somerset, it was a draw and big Allan Ball got injured. Graham McLean came in on for the second game and it was 5-4. That was a game. Atmosphere was fantastic. Dixie Ingram, he broke my nose that night.”

Alex Ingram was known as Dixie.

“Alex Ingram, he was the centre forward. He elbowed me, oh aye. Most certainly intentionally. He looked down at me when I was lying there, the blood was……. ‘Are you all right son?’” Boyd continued – “I didn’t miss him when we were going off the park at the end, I let him know what was. ‘We’re all right, we’re in the next round of the cup’. Never said anything back about that, there’s nothing much you can, you haven’t got an answer for that.”

When Jimmy Robertson was interviewed for Queen's Legends he volunteered the description of Crawford Boyd as, “A bit of a hardie guy”. It seems JR’s description was pretty good.

“We played Rangers in the League Cup, they beat us 1-0 at Ibrox, we won 2-1 at Palmerston and it went to extra time, they beat us [3-2 on aggregate]. The team played well that night. Parlane and Johnstone were their forward two. They were useful players, certainly useful players. And then they played us in the Scottish Cup and it just didn’t happen, they gave us a doing. Palmerston was sold out, I think it was just too big an occasion for everybody and Rangers just steamrollered us.”

“We went to Marbella after we played Rangers. He came as well, I don’t know whether they still use Gibson’s [buses], Jimmy Gibson. Jimmy Gibson got a holiday as well. The year we played Rangers three times, twice in the League Cup and once in the Scottish Cup, they must have made a lot of money. Also Willie Harkness took Ernie Walker, he was at Marbella as well. It was nice that Jimmy Gibson got to go.”

A game in Marbella?

“There was to be but it ended up, no, just a holiday, we played against waiters and that and that was a farce.”

(QoS in Marbella, 1975. Back, L to R: Mike Jackson, George Dickson, Billy McLaren, ? , ? , Jimmy Anderson, Willie Harkness, Ernie Walker, Billy Houliston, Jim Gibson (Coach Owner / Driver), Crawford Boyd, Lewis Russell, Iain McChesney, ?

Front: Ian Mitchell, Jim Donald, Tommy O’Hara, Jim Miller, Tommy Bryce [mk I].)

Next was the League Cup 6-0 victory when QoS played against Dundee. Gordon Strachan played his last game for Dundee that evening before transferring to Aberdeen.

“I was playing that night. That was great, just everything went right that night’, smiled Boyd. “You get some nights when you hit the ball, it just goes in and other nights people clear it off the line and that. I’ve not any memories of any of them, they weren’t at the races that night.”

Boyd then generalised on his first Palmerston spell. “It was just good playing with somebody like big Bally behind you because there wasn’t much went past him. He was a great goalie, Allan. What stuck in my mind when I signed for Queen of the South, a couple of guys about 74, 75, two in particular, Tommy O’Hara from Celtic, and Jimmy Miller [signed from Aberdeen]; full time footballers, didn’t quite make it at the teams they were with, you could see the difference in part time football and full time football – they were just away ahead of everybody of else. They were playing the ball and not just standing admiring the passing; they played it and they were backing it up and running, running for a one-two. And Reid, Ian Reid was the same. Ian Reid had got a lot of stick from Jim McLean when he was at Dundee United. He actually told me that McLean was a bully, and Ian wasn’t the best of trainers.”

Richard Gough has commented in the past that Jim McLean had only one way of managing players. While Gough said that he personally didn’t mind McLean’s dominating style, he could see why some other players wouldn’t like it. Correspondingly of course is the likes of the description of McLean by journeyman forward Iain Ferguson as, ‘tactically the best manager I played for’. This is no surprise when McLean’s tactics took Ferguson and his Tannadice team mates to the 1987 UEFA Cup final.

Boyd continued, “At that level of football, O’Hara, Miller, Reid, they had been full time footballers, and that’s what I’m trying to say, that the difference in the coaching from full time and only being part time and only meeting each other on a Saturday; I trained with Morton because I live in Largs so it was nice playing with guys like that.”

(Scottish Divisional Select squad, Dec 1974. The front row is Crawford Boyd, John Dempster and Jimmy Miller).

Boyd’s performances at QoS as a class footballer allied to his toughness didn’t go unrecognised by others. This included playing for a Scottish Divisional select side:

"Twice I was awarded player of the year by the Queen of the South supporters club and that was a great honour. 1973/74 and 1978/79. Also there was an international against the Italian under 25s in Pescara in Italy in 1974. I played centre half that night for the Scottish team. The score was nothing each, the game got abandoned in the 71st minute due to flooding. There was flash-floods, it was between Christmas and New Year the game. I played and Jim Miller played, and John Dempster was substitute. Wee Jimmy Coughlin who was later to go to Queen of the South from Albion Rovers, he was a substitute as well. I’ve got this book that my wife done for me, it’s just a wee thing with different teams I played with, kept all the different wee cut outs, a wee scrap book. I’m looking at a picture of myself, Jocky and Jim Miller just waiting in the players lounge kind of thing."

And to the best player played Crawford Boyd played directly against for QoS. “A guy at Motherwell, played with Liverpool and Coventry, Bobby Graham. He just had everything. People talk about guys scoring goals and Willie Pettigrew was a prolific goal scorer at that time. Who was the guy that played next to him? It was Bobby Graham that laid on all the chances for him, he was a superb player.”

Bobby Graham’s stats at Liverpool back up Boyd’s comments. A creative forward rather than a ‘fox in the box’ poacher, Graham chalked up 31 goals for himself in his 101 league appearances for Liverpool. He dropped down the selection pecking order when the Scouse club signed John Toshack and Kevin Keegan.

“There’s a difference, and I found that out when I went to Hearts. There’s a difference playing in the first division, after about five years I started to feel more comfortable. It’s like everything, it’s like somebody serving an apprenticeship, you get better. Then when I went to Hearts, they were in the first division and we won the first division, and I didn’t feel out of place, I was quite comfortable in their team. And then we were in the Premier League, you’re playing Rangers, Charlie Nicholas at Celtic, Gordon Strachan was at Aberdeen, they were a good team then. I just wasn’t good enough at that level. I could make excuses but that’s one thing, I would never lie or anything like that. We got a different manager. Willie Ormond was the manager that signed me. He got his books at the end of that season. A new man came in, Bobby Moncur, [ex UEFA cup winning Newcastle United captain]. I got on well enough with the guy - I just wasn’t good enough. There was a lot of other guys in the team who weren’t good enough either.”

Boyd was asked to confirm Drew Busby's left Hearts shortly before Boyd joined:

“We missed each other. Jim Jeffries was the captain, Cammy Fraser, Willie Gibson, John Brough, he was the goalkeeper. It was fantastic to have achieved your life long ambition. My life long ambition was to be full time in football, and it happened for just under 2 years, it was great, it was fantastic. When I went to Hearts, I won a first division medal, I’ve got a first division winners medal in my trophy cabinet."

And the return to QoS.

“It was after Christmas. It was nice, it was nice to get promotion and get a wee holiday in Portugal, that was nice as well. When I went back the second time I didn’t enjoy it as much though, it seemed different, but maybe I wasn’t as good going back the second time either, but it just didn’t work out. The couple of months that was left of the season and the whole of the next season. Then Drew Busby came in as the manager and I’d just started a new job and Drew said to me, ‘For training, Hamilton.’ I was working in Greenock. I said, “I can’t do that, I train with Morton, I’ve had that arrangement for years.” He said, “If you’re not going to come to Hamilton…’, so that’s what it came to.”

Life after QoS?

“Irvine Meadow, I was there for about three years. I broke my leg twice. I came back too quickly first time and broke it again in the same place. I ended up I was the manager for about six months. I didn’t enjoy managing. It was one of those kind of ones where they said there was six on the committee and the six committee guys and me were going to pick the team. I said, ‘No, that’s the beauty of football, seven of us could watch a game of football with seven different opinions of who we would want to play’. I said, ‘I’m not going to be a figurehead for you.’ I thought I made that message quite clear to them that I wasn’t going to be a figure head. I said, ‘You can recommend guys to me but ultimately I’ll pick the team.’ And after six months….”

“I played away ‘til I was 43. I love football, it didn’t matter what level of football I was playing at, I just loved it.”

21st century QoS:

“I went to the [Scottish Cup] final, we watched them in the final, they were brilliant that day. I was sitting in amongst the Rangers supporters; my oldest boy works with Hovis and he got a couple of tickets. To lose the goal just before half time; then when Queen's scored the goal at the start and then they got the other goal, there was a deathly silence - [at the other end] the Queen's supporters singing away. For fifteen minutes, Rangers were definitely very anxious. And then your man turns up again, Boyd, and gets the goal but Queen's certainly didn’t disgrace themselves, I thought they were great.”

Boyd also watched the semi on telly. “Queen's took their chances. They had a good run. You would think how unlikely would that have been in your life time or my lifetime, for Queen's to get to the final of the Scottish Cup.”


Best team mates at QoS – “Allan Ball, Tommy O’Hara, Jimmy Miller and I was very fortunate to play with a guy called Chris Balderstone, whose legs were done, but I’ve never seen anybody pass the ball so well. I had a broken leg the year that he was there, I watched him. He had a guy in the middle of the park beside him, Benny Ferrie, who wasn’t the best of players but Benny could run, Benny could move, he was the legs for this Chris Balderstone. Chris Balderstone was superb. John Dempster, he’s another one. Pace, he scored a lot of goals. Jocky could play, there wasn’t any doubt about that.”

(Benny Ferrie)

Favourite game – Ayr.

Favourite memory – “I’ve got a lot of very happy memories, it was just great to go down to Dumfries to play, it was a lovely park, it was a treat to play on that park, a lovely playing surface. If I’d went to a bigger team I wouldn’t have got the chance right away likely, if I signed for a bigger team I wouldn’t have…. Then when you do get the chance you’ve got to be outstanding right away, if you’re with Rangers or Celtic or all these other bigger teams. Where as Queen of the South, they’ll persevere a wee bit, and give somebody a bit of time, and give somebody, and… I was lucky that way, and I was quite kind of fortunate in that I think Willie Harkness kind of liked me.”

(A more recent photo of Crawford Boyd, taken in 2007)

Crawford Boyd's 321 QoS first team appearances is 20th highest in QoS history (as at August 2020). Very much taking care of things at the back, he was never going to be a prolific goal scorer but he also pitched in with 6 goals in his 253 league appearances.

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