Obituary: Laurie Scott

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
LAURIE SCOTT played his football hard, but with a smile never far from his face. He was good at it too, an unfashionably nimble right-back for Arsenal and England immediately after the Second World War, an era when all too many defenders relied on brawn rather than mobility.

Undoubtedly the affable Yorkshireman would have thrived in the modern era, when overlapping full-backs have become the norm. As it was he served club and country nobly, and would have enjoyed an even more illustrious career had he not lost a large portion of his prime to the conflict with Germany.

Stocky and immensely strong, Scott was a natural athlete, excelling at all games as he grew up, but football was his primary concern. Thus he enlisted with Bradford City as a 14-year-old outside-right in 1931, but he was converted to a full-back before turning professional in 1935. There followed two seasons of Second Division service with the Bantams before he made a momentous move, joining Arsenal, then the dominant force in the English game, in exchange for the utility player Ernie Tuckett.

However, this was no path to instant glory for the talented but still raw 19-year-old. First the majestic form of George Male and Eddie Hapgood, and then the Second World War, meant that Scott would wait nearly nine years until his senior baptism as a Gunner. This did not mean, though, that he was deprived of high-quality football in the intervening years. First he won two London Combination medals with Arsenal reserves, then he helped his new club to triumph in several wartime competitions.

Scott, who served as a physical training instructor in the RAF during the war, was maturing into a fine all-round player. A crisp and combative tackler, he was quick to recover if a winger had the temerity to give him the slip, his distribution was sensibly safe and he was blessed with a shrewd positional sense.

As a result he donned an England shirt for 16 unofficial internationals during the war, and it was no surprise that he retained his place when peace resumed. Though in his 30th year when he made his official debut in 1946, Scott performed splendidly on the world stage. He won 17 successive caps, most of them in a polished partnership with Middlesbrough's George Hardwick, before suffering a knee injury when facing Wales at Villa Park in 1948 which ended his England days.

Before and after that setback, he prospered at club level, helping the Gunners lift the Championship in 1947/48 and the FA Cup two years later, when they defeated Liverpool 2-0 at Wembley. Sadly, though, by the turn of the decade Scott's knee was proving increasingly troublesome, leading to several lengthy lay-offs, and his top-flight tenure ended in October 1951 when he became player-manager of Crystal Palace, then struggling near the foot of the old Third Division (South).

Despite working prodigiously, he was unable to transform the Glaziers' fortunes, and, after they narrowly missed having to apply for re-election to the Football League in 1954, he left the club.

Subsequently Scott made his living as a sales representative for a London- based hardware firm, but his love affair with the game was not over. He entered wholeheartedly into non-League football, bossing Hendon from 1954 to 1957 and then coaching Hitchin Town. Meanwhile he continued to play as a regular member of the Showbiz XI for some 20 years, lining up alongside the likes of Sean Connery and Tommy Steele to raise money for charity.

In 1984 Scott retired from his job, and he and his wife, Gerry, moved to the village of Hoylandswaine, near Barnsley. The couple, who lost their only child, Valerie, when she was 10, celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 1998.

Lawrence Scott, footballer and football manager: born Sheffield 23 April 1917; played for Brad- ford City 1933-37, Arsenal 1937-51, Crystal Palace 1951-53; capped 17 times by England 1946-48; manager, Crystal Palace 1951-54; married (one daughter deceased); died Barnsley, South Yorkshire 18 July 1999.