Alex Scott

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Alex Scott, footballer: born Falkirk, Stirlingshire 22 November 1937; played for Falkirk Rangers 1954-63, Everton 1963-67, Hibernian 1967-69, Falkirk 1969-72; capped 16 times by Scotland 1956-66; married; died Falkirk 13 September 2001.

Alex Scott's last Scotland appearance in 1966 at least afforded him the chance to bow out in style. Brazil were the opponents at Hampden Park, just a week before the World Cup finals began in England, allowing Scott to share the stage with Pele, the greatest ever footballer.

Just a fortnight later, Pele would be on Scott's other home patch, at Goodison Park, Everton, where his brutal treatment at the hands of Portugal and Bulgaria signalled the end of his and Brazil's World Cup. Such cynical tormentors would have had a problem catching Scott.

Scott belonged to an era when wingers were supposed to get the ball down the touchline at breakneck pace. He could do that, and more, which is why he enjoyed a successful career with Rangers and Everton, allowing him to win both the Scottish and English titles, as well as earning 16 Scotland caps spread over a decade.

He would have had more, but for the fierce competition then between wingers in Scotland. In 1966, Scotland also used Celtic's Jimmy Johnstone, Charlie Cooke of Chelsea and Willie Henderson of Rangers – Scott's successor at Ibrox – all of whom are regarded as incomparable by their respective clubs' supporters.

Scott's precocious talent prompted Rangers to blood him only a year after signing him in 1954, at the age of 16, from Camelon, a non-league club in his native Falkirk, as successor to another celebrated winger, Willie Waddell. Scott scored a hat-trick on his début on 9 March 1955, a 4-1 victory over none other than Falkirk.

In his eight years in the first team at Ibrox, Scott scored 108 goals in 331 matches and won four league championships; however he would thrive most on the European stage, which was then in its infancy. He scored against Anderlecht and Red Star Belgrade as Rangers reached the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1960, only to succumb to Eintracht Frankfurt who ensured their place in the historic final which Real Madrid won 7-3. The following season, with Rangers in the Cup Winners Cup, he scored four times in a campaign which saw the Glasgow side reach the final, where they lost 4-1 on aggregate to Fiorentina. Scott supplied the only goal against the Italians, with his total of 12 European goals surpassed only by the prolific Ally McCoist in 1997.

Remarkably, Scott's place was under threat by the emergence of Henderson, and, though he lost his place to the teenager in 1962, he was still selected by Scotland and featured in the side which defeated England in 1962 for the first home victory at Hampden Park in 25 years.

Everton acquired him in February 1963 for £39,000, stealing Scott from under the nose of their fellow title challengers Tottenham Hotspur. The reward was the English championship a few months later.

At Goodison, Scott was known as "Chico" because of his swarthy appearance and dubbed "The Head Waiter" by team-mates because of his habit of running with one arm held out stiffly, as if carrying a tray of drinks. He contributed to a memorable era on Merseyside, accompanied by his compatriot Alex Young, for whom he set up countless goals. Though his own goal-scoring became more sporadic in England – 26 in 176 games for Everton – he provided several in the club's FA Cup success in 1966.

In September 1967 he returned to Scotland, joining Hibernian just as his younger brother, Jim, also an international, was leaving the Edinburgh club to join Newcastle United (and later Crystal Palace). His football circle was completed when he joined Falkirk in 1969-70 and he played for his home-town side until retiral in 1972, alongside Jim, with whom he later went into business.

Phil Gordon

Comments