Tributes to Markinch man dubbed ‘greatest ever Steelman’

Andy Paton (right) in action for Motherwell
Andy Paton (right) in action for Motherwell

Tributes have been paid to Markinch resident Andy Paton – voted Motherwell ’s greatest ever player – who has died at the age of 91.

Andy was captain of the ‘Steelmen’ when they lifted the League Cup in 1950 and Scottish Cup in 1952, regarded by many as the club’s most famous achievements.

His three uncles played for clubs such as Newcastle, Derby, Spurs and Swansea – so Andy was clearly destined to follow in their footsteps.

He was born in the Ayrshire village of Dreghorn on January 2, 1923 and, at the age of 14, he was already making a name for himself as a defender for Irvine Meadow.

At 19, he accepted a trial invitation from then Motherwell manager John ‘Sailor’ Hunter, who eventually signed him.

He captained the side that beat the all-conquering Hibernian team 3-0 at Hampden Park to secure the club’s first major silverware in 1950, having played in all 10 League Cup ties on the way to lifting the trophy.

The following season, Andy once more captained the team that disposed of Forfar, St Mirren, Dunfermline, Rangers and Hearts, before Motherwell beat Dundee with four second-half goals to win the Scottish Cup for the first time.

A month later, he reached the pinnacle of his career when he was picked to play for Scotland against Denmark and Sweden, resulting in two official caps to add to his previous three wartime caps.
In all, he made over 500 official and wartime appearances for Motherwell before leaving to join Hamilton Academical, who he would also later manage. In 2006, he was voted the ‘Best Ever Motherwell Player’ by the club’s fans.

Andy and his wife Mae moved to Sweetbank Crescent, Markinch in 2005 to be closer to his daughter, Joan, and family, and was a regular at the local church.

His funeral is at Kirkcaldy Crematorium on Monday, February 17 at 2.15 p.m.

A footballing maverick who always ‘got his man’

Described by many who saw him play as a ‘footballing maverick’, who often left fans enthralled by his bravery and unflinching commitment, it’s understandable why Andy Paton was voted Motherwell’s greatest ever player by the fans in 2006. Son-in-law Dr Bob Grant says he was a keen follower of the game long after he retired and received regular visits from Motherwell’s Fife supporters club.

“He was nicknamed ‘Smiler’, though he never smiled, and he could be fierce; he always got his man,” he joked.