Busby represented the Edinburgh side for almost six years between 1973 and 1979 and became a legend at Tynecastle Park due to his uncompromising style and penchant for scoring goals – some of them spectacular.
Born in Glasgow, Busby began his career at Third Lanark but was left seeking a new club when they went out of business at the end of his first season there. He claimed the honour of scoring the club’s last ever goal in a 5-1 defeat at Dumbarton on April 28, 1967.
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He played briefly for Partick Thistle and then Airdrie before then-Hearts manager Bobby Seith paid £35,000 to bring him to Edinburgh. Seith felt Busby would add aggression, skill and goals to the forward line.
“If you didn’t know what Hearts was about when Drew Busby played, then he epitomised it. He was idolised,” said the club’s former midfielder, Gary Mackay, who grew up watching the team Busby played in.
“He was also so unassuming. He had no kind of ego, none whatsoever. He actually couldn’t relate to why the Hearts fans held him in such high esteem. Busby had something every Hearts fan loved.”
After 256 appearances in maroon and 85 goals, Busby was sold by manager Willie Ormond to Toronto Blizzard in April 1979. He made a short loan move to Barrow AFC and then returned to Scotland the following year.
He joined Morton and enjoyed two years at Cappielow Park before finishing his career with a two-season stint at Queen of the South.
Busby returned to Tynecastle as a guest of Hearts in recent years and was always warmly welcomed by ex-players and supporters of all generations. Many who were too young to see him play were only too well aware of his reputation and the cult-hero status he will forever hold in Gorgie.
In 2018, he was inducted into the club’s hall of fame with a passage on the club’s website stating: “Hearts suffered a number of hammer-blows during the mid-seventies, but Drew Busby was a light at the end of the tunnel and he always made it worthwhile coming along to Tynecastle, despite the set-backs.”
The club’s former matchday announcer Scott Wilson said: “The great Drew Busby sadly passed away this morning and the Hearts family has lost another legend. He was one of the most humble, self-effacing men I ever met and I was honoured to be classed as a friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. RIP Drew.”
Popular Scottish football commentator Derek Rae paid his own tribute.
He said: “The Scottish players we saw in their prime & in our youth always carry extra clout in our minds no matter the team. R.I.P. Drew Busby, a wonderful player in the 70s. Always smiled when referencing him, commentating on @JamTarts matches in later years. Condolences to his loved ones.”