Remembering Dougie Love, the 'Meedies' footballing maestro

Devoting the entirety of his adult life to playing football and coaching aspiring young talent, he was the “fitba’ daft” Southsider who will be remembered with fondness for as long as the Meadows remain green.

By David McLean
Monday, 12th October 2020, 7:00 am
Dougie Love coached at Berwick Rangers in 1967 when they notched up their most famous ever result.
Dougie Love coached at Berwick Rangers in 1967 when they notched up their most famous ever result.

Douglas “Dougie” Love, who would have turned 100 in July, was a coach and friend to generations of young footballers, be it at senior level training sessions, or down the Meadows with kit bags and jumpers for goalposts.

Dubbed the “Meedies maestro” by those who knew him best, Love, who passed away 14 years ago, continued coaching players and having informal kickabouts into his eighties.

Only a handful of people, however, knew the extent of Dougie’s footballing achievements, which included playing a part in the biggest Scottish Cup upset of all time.

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Dougie would have marked his 100th birthday this year.

Dougie’s niece, Evelyn Love-Gajardo, revealed her uncle’s obsession with the beautiful game was a 24/7 kind of deal.

She told the Evening News: “He used to come to us for Christmas dinner and somebody would say something like ‘pass the salt’ and he would say, ‘aye, that’s the best pass anybody’s made all day’.

"He just couldn’t help himself, he just completely loved football.”

A skilful footballer as a young man, Dougie might have made it professional had he not spent almost the entire Second World War as a PoW.

Thomas Hardy, 7, and Daniel Scotland, 8, enjoy the new bench in commemoration of Dougie Love, which was unveiled in 2007.

Evelyn said: “When he came back, my mum said he was like skin and bones from five years of having just bread and water.”

Dougie recovered to rack up appearances for Glasgow amateur club Queen’s Park, and Vale of Leven, where he finished his competitive career before heading into coaching.

He was a trainer at Berwick Rangers in 1967 when the club recorded its most famous win, knocking the mighty Glasgow Rangers out of the Scottish Cup.

In his own notes, Dougie recalled: “They were only part-time and Glasgow Rangers had ten internationals in their team. What a great day that was, I will never forget it.”

After leaving Berwick, Dougie joined the coaching set up at Hibs under Walter Galbraith and Eddie Turnbull and worked with a team of young starlets who would go on to be known as “Turnbull’s Tornadoes”, including Peter Cormack, Pat Stanton and Peter Marinello.

In later years he became a scout at English side Everton, and coached youngsters at the Ian St John Soccer School.

But it was on the Meadows that many like to remember him best. Dougie was there come rain, sleet or shine.

A memorial bench was dedicated to Dougie Love in the Meadows shortly after his death in 2006.

Edinburgh local Keith Smith paid tribute to a “humble man who loved to share his joy of fitba’”

He said: "Whenever I walk over the Meadows, near Dougie’s memorial bench, I can still hear him shout ‘baw tae feet!’.

"He helped several generations of young footballers on the Meadows. I was one of them, and my son, Ally, would have been one of the last – he’s 27 now.”

Evelyn says she adored her Uncle Douglas and loves to see people sharing pleasant memories about him.

She added: "What I always find really lovely when he’s mentioned on social media, is nobody ever has a bad word to say about him.

“We all loved him dearly. He was just the kindest and nicest man."

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