When Dave Halliday was lured south by Leicester City during the 1955 close season,
an era in the history of the management of Aberdeen Football Club came to a close.
Over a 52 year-span, three men Jimmy Philip, Pat Travers and Halliday had guided
the Dons from their birth, through all the ups and downs of that long-gone period
to the highest domestic honour - the Scottish League championship.
However, the cozy days of the "old" style game were about to undergo
a major change. As Dave Shaw took over the reigns from Halliday, the first
European Cup was about to begin. And only a year before the Hungarians had
come to Wembley and proved that the continentals had not only caught up at
international level, they had left the old fashioned British game behind. In
short, football was on the road to becoming big business. The role of the manager
was set to change for ever.
The appointment of Dave Shaw as a manager was a fairly logical one. After all,
he had been the man responsible for the conditioning and training of the side
that has lifted the league title at the end of the 1954-55 season. Dave's
association with the Dons had begun in July 1950 when he was transferred from
a highly-successful Hibs side to Aberdeen. A brother of the more famous "Tiger
Shaw", Dave had another Dons connection as he was the cousin of the Dons' great
1920s skipper Bert McLachlan.
Dave's football career began with Banknock Juveniles, from where he
moved to Grange Rovers before joining Hibs in 1939. Like all players of his
generation, Dave, a very capable left-back, saw a large part of his career
put on hold by the Second World War. However, during the immediate post-war
era, as part of the flying Hibs side of the day, he received a little in the
way of compensation in the shape of eight full Scottish caps and an assortment
of honours with the Easter Road club. He was also the side's skipper
in the Dons historic 2-1 win over Hibs in the 1947 Scottish Cup final. Following
his transfer to Pittodrie in 1950, Shaw was immediately installed as club captain
and continued on in the role even after taking over the trainer's duties
from Jock Patillo on the latter's departure to become manager of St Johnstone
in February, 1953. Dave served the Dons in his dual role as the Dons lost to
Rangers in the replayed Scottish Cup final.
At the end of the 1952-53 season, Dave finally called an end to his distinguished
playing career to concentrate on his coaching post where he remained until
his promotion to manager during the summer of 1955.
Dave Shaw's task was an unenviable one indeed - taking over from
a man who had just taken the Dons to the very pinnacle of the Scottish game
for the first time in their history. Dave Halliday was going to be a tough
act to follow, and Shaw's job wasn't made any easier by the knowledge
that his appointment had not been a unanimous one at board level.
Christened "Faither" by the players during his stint as trainer,
Dave was not one to get involved in the boardroom politics and was the first
real "players' manager" in the club's history. He had
a reputation for being a man who would do anything for the players, and had
the ability to make them feel important. With Dave at the helm, the Dons didn't
miss a beat at the start of the 1955-56 season, and quickly swept to their
first success (the 1946 Southern League Cup not withstanding) in the League
Cup competition by defeating St Mirren 2-1 in the Hampden final after disposing
of Rangers in the semi-final.
The defence of the Dons' championship title went extremely well, and
a success on that front seemed more likely than not until injuries to skipper
Jimmy Mitchell and centre-forward Paddy Buckley dented Shaw's hopes of
going one better than his predecessor. After the initial success of the 1955
League Cup, injuries to key players began to become a regular feature of Dave
Shaw's tenure as manager. Buckley never really recovered from his knee
injury, and the likes of Alec Young, and later Archie Glen - successor
to Mitchell as captain - missed significant spells due to injury blight.
The premature retirement of the late Harry Yorston did little to aid the Shaw
cause and the Dons on-field fortunes began to slide. By the end of the 1958-59
season Aberdeen had slumped to 13th position in the league, and although a
Scottish Cup Final appearance was something in the way of a pick-me-up for
the restless fans, that proved of little comfort when the Dons were upset 3-1
by St Mirren.
On November 17 1959, in the wake of a poor start to the 1959-60 season, Dave
Shaw relinquished the manager's post in favour of former team-mate Tommy
Pearson who had taken up the post as youth coach at Pittodrie earlier that
Shaw returned to his true forte as club trainer, a post he held until he retired
in 1967. He died in 1977.