Dave Maclaren: 1934 – 2016

News From Afar Of Keeper’s Passing-Away

Dave Maclaren in 1958.

Dave Maclaren, like many Scots, loved his golf. He also knew how to ‘work’ a dressing room and was not afraid of holding court in the interests of team morale.

But the man who served Wolves as a goalkeeper and coach in the 1960s did not cling to his many football friends.

For him, the quiet life took over – in the area north of Melbourne famed for the old gold rush (please excuse the pun). He was more than content in Australia and wasn’t one to dash back every year or two, especially with the dwindling number of folk he still knew over here.

We heard as far back as the summer that Dave was very ill. He suffered a massive stroke on May 11 and a follow-up message from his daughter Alison last week suggested that this was a good time to say a prayer for him.

Now we have the sad news that he has passed away at the age of 82 – another addition to the long list of good football men lost.

For many years, Maclaren was one of those we thought we would have difficulty tracking down for interview purposes. But, in the summer of 2011, Wolves Heroes’ co-owner John Richards used one of his frequent family visits Down Under to make telephone contact with him.

John reported back that Dave did a bit of farming on his land and played golf, then Charles Bamforth went a step further the following spring by interrupting a business trip to Victoria by going to meet one of the men he had been unable to track down while writing his In Keeping With Wolves book nearly 25 years ago. They got on famously over lunch.

Here we are now, providing the posthumous tribute and recognising a life well lived, Perthshire-born Maclaren having caught the travel bug during his RAF stint in the Far East, mainly as a radar fitter.

It is no surprise that he played football to a good standard in Hong Kong and won the Malaya Cup with Penang State before returning to his native country to make a single appearance for Dundee.

His first English posting, other than an earlier spell as an amateur with Chelsea, was at Leicester, where he had Gordon Banks as a reserve, and he subsequently worked with Andy Beattie and Malcolm Allison at Plymouth – the club who sold him to Wolves in January, 1965, the day before a difficult debut in the 4-1 League defeat at Arsenal.

Running out alongside Ron Flowers before Wolves’ 3-0 win at Leyton Orient in 1965-66.

He was part of a Second Division promotion-winning side at Filbert Street in 1956-57 and made around 100 first-team appearances there before five years and 145 matches in the south-west, exclusively in the Second Division. 

Even at Wolves, he had only fleeting experience of First Division football in the shape of the nine games he played as relegation became confirmed in the spring of 1965.

He added another 38 League and Cup outings for the club at the lower level, the last of them on the opening day of 1966-67, and it is one of the sport’s stranger stories that he was signed by Southampton on the back of Wolves’ 9-3 defeat at The Dell in the final match before Beattie was sacked as Cullis’s replacement.

The Southern Evening Echo described his display as ‘magnificent’ and, with first choice Campbell Forsyth nursing a broken leg, the Saints faithful saw plenty more of the heroics that had at least brought him a clean sheet from 4.15pm onwards on that nightmare September afternoon! He played 27 times for them, including another 4-1 beating at Highbury, as they scrambled to safety in their first season ever in the top flight.

His League career done, he dropped down to Worcester City before returning to Molineux as part of the backroom team serving Ronnie Allen initially and then Bill McGarry.

“Dave was at Wolves when I signed in 1969 and was the first reserve coach I had there,” said John Richards this afternoon.

“He was excellent; enthusiastic, outgoing and always encouraging. He is someone I always thought loved every minute and his personality was infectious.

“He loved to join in the small-sided games we had in training and loved the fun of the English lads against the rest, which only meant the Scots and Irish in those days.

“He had a very broad Scottish accent and could be one of the lads at the appropriate times. He was obviously well regarded in coaching because he had many years at it, both here and when he moved to Australia.”

Dave (far right) in Australia with his family.

Maclaren worked for six years for Sydney City after first landing in 1972, then moved to Melbourne and transformed the Greek-run Hellas from bottom position in the new National League to title winners the season after.

Frank Munro and another former Wolves man, Bertie Lutton, were among the players he signed and he proved just as big a success when leaving the game in which he also coached in Malaya to set up a company dealing with the administration of superannuation funds.

Unbelievably, Maclaren, who was born on June 12, 1934, was one of four goalkeeping brothers, Jim and former Aston Villa coach Roy also playing professionally and Monty being attached for a while to Liverpool.

* We will be writing more in the near future about Ian Cartwright, the 1980s midfielder who has also died this week.

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