Drew Busby
Drew Busby
Drew Busby
● Drew Busby, c1967 (PIN)

born in Scotland

Andrew Douglas Busby was born on Monday, 8th December, 1947, in Glasgow.

The 5' 8 (12st 0lbs) forward signed for Willie Thornton's Thistle on Thursday, 21st September, 1967, having most recently been with Third Lanark.

Aged 19, he made his only appearance on Saturday, 23rd September, 1967, in a 1-0 defeat at home to Morton in the SFL First Division.

There were no goals for Drew in his one-off appearance for Thistle.

His club-list included Dumbarton United, Third Lanark, Derry City, Partick Thistle, Vale of Leven, Airdrieonians, Heart of Midlothian, Toronto Blizzard, Morton and Queen of the South.

Drew died on Friday, 1st July, 2022, in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, aged 74.

Bio Extra

Known for his wholehearted and robust playing style, “The Buzzbomb” was one of those players that the fans adored, and he was revered for decades at Airdrie and Hearts, after his 1970s escapades with both. He started out as a traditional inside left, and latterly fell back to the midfield as modern tactics dictated. In a 2014 interview with the Scotsman, Drew explained his unusual methodology in getting his foot in the door as a footballer:


At school myself and some pals, all football-daft, divided up the old English First Division and wrote off to half a dozen clubs each asking for a trial. We didn’t have the right addresses so we’d put, say, ‘The Manager, Coventry City FC’ on the envelopes and hope for the best. I got a reply from them! I got off the train at Birmingham New Street. It was dark, and I was seeing black people for the first time. My digs were run by this sweet old couple who were completely deaf. I had to kneel down and shout into their ears. The manager was Jimmy Hill. He saw me score for the youths a couple of times. But I got homesick.

Back home, Drew started in the men's game at the amateur level, and his peformances were such that Third Lanark signed him up early in 1967. As it turned out, he was the last-ever player to be signed by the Hi-Hi, and would surely never have done so had he known what lay in store there. He scored 5 goals in his 11 League games for them, including their last-ever goal which came in a 5-1 defeat at Boghead on the 28th April 1967. Cold showers and wages from gate coinage were surefire signs of the impending liquidation disaster, and all Thirds players lost their jobs as soon as the season ended. Drew found an ally in former Partick Thistle legend Johnny MacKenzie, who introduced him to Derry City in the summer of 1967, but a protracted wrangle between the club and player on personal terms ended the temporary arrangement after 2 months, the Scottish League's fee being an added complication to any deal.

It took Drew a while to recover from all this unrest, but Willie Thornton gave him a break, signing him for the Jags in September 1967. In what turned out to be his only game in Thistle colours, Drew lasted only 65 minutes in a 1-0 home defeat to Morton. His contract was cancelled just weeks later, and we can only read between the lines that Drew was not ready at that time, mentally or physically, for the ongoing challenges of first class football. He dropped down to Junior level for three seasons, playing for his local side Vale of Leven.

Drew returned to the senior game in 1970 with Airdrieonians, where he formed a formidable attacking partnership with Drew Jarvie and scored 43 goals in 93 league games. With Airdrie facing relegation in 1973, Hearts manager Bobby Seith stepped in to sign Busby for a fee of £35,000. In six seasons at Tynecastle, he scored 84 goals in all competitions, played in the 1976 Scottish Cup Final and was popular with the Hearts support. He was a key member of the squad that took part in the European Cup Winners Cup the following season, scoring in their unforgettable home victory over Lokomotive Leipzig, and also netting in the next round against Hamburger SV. His sometimes over zealous "commitment" resulted in a red card in an Edinburgh derby match at Easter Road in May 1978, involving ex-Jag Arthur Duncan and future Jags gaffer, John Lambie:


Des Bremner and Arthur Duncan got caught with the ball between them. I went in like a lunatic and took out the pair of them. They got carried off, I got sent off. I was sent off four times in my career and definitely deserved to go that day – I was an absolute nutcase. And as I was leaving the field [Hibs assistant manager] John Lambie took a swing at me. But we all made up later. It was that respect thing.

Behind-the-scenes turbulence at Tynecastle reminded Drew of player vs. officials rows at Third Lanark, and this did little to help the club's cause. Relegation for the second time in three seasons forced the club to cut costs and he was released at the end of the 1978–79 campaign. Following two seasons in the NASL with the nascent Toronto Blizzard, Drew returned to Scotland and joined Morton in September 1980 (scoring on his league debut for the Greenock club) before becoming player-manager of Queen of the South in 1982. After two seasons with little success in Dumfries, he retired in 1984. Former players, Ted McMinn, Jimmy Robertson and George Cloy have all subsequently been interviewed by the club and spoke well of Busby. Crawford Boyd cited a difference of opinion with the manager as being the reason for his own departure from Palmerston.

Drew did a bit of scouting for St Mirren after that, and became the landlord of the Waverley Bar in Dumbarton. Just as he was as a footballer, he was a popular host in his bar. He published an autobiography in July 2013, "The Drew Busby Story". In May 2014 he was inducted into the Airdrieonians Hall Of Fame at the annual Player Of The Year Award Dinner.


Historian's note: Not to be confused with Dave Busby who played for Barrow in 1979-80.

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