Davie Duncan

In September 2000 East Fife Football Club were presented with the jersey which Davie Duncan wore when he made his International debut for Scotland against Belgium in 1948. The following article appeared in the match programme for the East Fife v Albion Rovers match at Bayview Stadium on Saturday 14 October 2000.

The article has been reproduced below with the kind permission of Programme Editor and fellow East Fife historian Jim Stewart:

The Davie Duncan Shirt

Taking pride of place in the dining area of the club lounge is the Scotland shirt worn by outside left Davie Duncan when he won the first of his three caps in a scoring debut against Belgium in a 2-0 victory at Hampden Park on 28 April 1948. Davie went on to play the following month against Switzerland in Berne and France in Paris. Scotland lost those two games 2-1 and 3-0 respectively. 

David gave away his shirts from the Swiss and French games but retained his first international jersey until 1965, when he handed it over to his friend’s son Henry Gibbon, then aged 12. Thirty-five years later Henry decided that Davie’s shirt should be presented to East Fife. The unveiling ceremony of the suitably framed shirt took place before the Hamilton match on 30 September 2000. The club records its thanks to Henry for his very kind gesture. 

David Miller Duncan was born on 21 November 1921. His playing career began with Woodside Amateurs in 1935. He then joined Milton of Balgonie before stepping up to the juniors with Lochgelly Albert in 1938. He played a trial for Wolves in 1939 before signing for Raith Rovers in May of that year.  Then came the Second World War.  Davie went on loan to Hearts in the Autumn of 1942 before signing for Celtic in December of that year. 

He made a scoring debut for Celtic in their 3-2 win over Motherwell in the Southern (Wartime) League on 19 December 1942. Of his debut, it was written that he used his chances “with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of intent”. He had, it was stated, “a terror of a left foot”. 

Despite that rhetoric, he played only 14 games for Celtic, scoring three goals.  The Parkhead faithful could not believe it when he was allowed to come to East Fife on loan. His East Fife debut was in the North Eastern (Wartime) league match against Raith Rovers at Bayview on 14 August 1943. Although he scored one of the goals against his old club, it was not enough to prevent a Rovers victory by 3-2.

His transfer was made permanent on 11 November 1944 and he returned to action the following Saturday in a 5-1 defeat by Dunfermline at Bayview. 

Wartime appearances do not count in players’ career records, so Davie’s official East Fife debut was in a 6-2 defeat against Dundee at Bayview in the ‘B’ Division on 10 August 1946.  He helped East Fife to promotion in the 1947/48 season.  On 1 November 1947, when East Fife won the League Cup for the first time in the replayed final against Falkirk, he made history by becoming the first player to score a hat trick in that competition.  In March 1948 he played for the Scottish league against the English league at Newcastle.  When he made his Scotland debut against Belgium in April 1948, he became the first player from the ‘B’ Division to play for his country.

When the League Cup was won for the second time on 29 October 1949 with a 3-0 victory over Dunfermline, Davie was again a goal scorer.  By 1953, when the League Cup was one for the third time, he had lost his place to Andy Matthew.  His last appearance for the first team was in the 3-1 defeat from Clyde at Shawfield in the ‘A’ Division match on 3 October 1953, when the forward line was switched around in the absence of Charlie Fleming, who was winning his only Scotland cap that day against Northern Ireland.  His last game in an East Fife jersey was for the reserves against Raith Rovers in the ‘C’ Division on 26 December 1953.  He scored 2 goals, one from a penalty, in a 3-0 win. 

On 6 January 1954 he was transferred to Raith Rovers, whom he helped to climb away from the relegation zone.  He was at Stark’s Park until April 1955. He then had a season with Crewe Alexandra before returning north to see out a successful twilight to his career with Brechin City, whom he served from February 1956 until the end of season 1958/59, when he retired from playing. 

David Duncan died on 11 January 1991.  For statistical purposes, his East Fife career dating from August 1946 consisted of 248 appearances (League 181, League Cup 47, Scottish Cup 20) in which he scored 98 goals (League 62, League Cup 26, Scottish cup 10).

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