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PersonalFullname: David Provan
aka: Davie Provan
Born: 8 May 1956
Birthplace: Gourock, Scotland
Signed: 18 September 1978 (from Kilmarnock)
Left: 15 February 1987 (Retired)
Position: Right winger
First game : Partick Thistle league away 3-2, 23 September 1978
Last game : Motherwell league home 3-2, 15 January 1986
First goal : Hibernian league away 2-2, 18 November 1978
Last goal : Aberdeen league away 1-4, 2 November 1985
International Caps: 10
International Goals: 1 (v Israel April 1981)
BiogDavie Provan was a classy right winger who was a fantastic crosser of a ball and must have created, literally, hundreds of goals for Celtic during his time at Parkhead.
He had came to prominence when first division Kilmarnock created a major shock in March 1978 when they knocked Celtic out of the Scottish Cup in a replay at Rugby Park. Provan was the best man afield over the two games and Celtic beat a host of clubs for his signature when they signed him for a Scottish record fee of £125,000 in September 1978 although he had a struggle with the Kilmarnock directors before he was allowed to leave as they did not approve of his destination to Glasgow's east end. Davie and his family had a strong Rangers background but he did not hesitate when the chance came to sign for Celtic. He made an impressive debut at Firhill in an exciting 3-2 win on September 23rd and made the Celtic number seven position his own for years to come.
His first goal was a wonderful swerving effort at Easter Road on November 18th 1978 and by the Spring he was a big favourite with the Celtic fans who loved his exciting wing play and delivery. In May 1979 he became a Celtic great when he played a starring role in Celtic's marvellous 4-2 win against Rangers at Parkhead on the night when the Celts won the League title with 10 men, displaying a courage and energy that was well above the call of duty.
By the 1979/80 season Davie was a Celtic mainstay in the first team and continued his great form. On October 3rd 1979 Celtic found themselves 2-0 down on aggregate to the Albanians of Partizan Tirana in the European Cup after an Alan Sneddon own goal at home. Provan led the Celtic fightback and created four goals in the next twenty four minutes, all from his cross balls, as Celtic blitzed the startled Albanians and stormed to a 4-1 win. This led ultimately to a glamour tie with Real Madrid and Celtic triumphed 2-0 at home on a night where Dave played a major role but this Celtic side was still inexperienced and capitulated 3-0 in the return leg in Spain.
Davie had by now become a regular in Jock Stein's Scotland squads having made his debut against Belguim in December 1979. He was elected as Scotland's player of the year in April 1980 which was richly deserved although Celtic wasted a considerable lead and lost their title to Aberdeen in the race for the championship. This led to pressure on the team to win the Scottish Cup final against Rangers on May 10th 1980. Davie was man of the match in many people's eyes with a gutsy display in an unusual deeper midfield role and it was from his corner that led to George McCluskey's winning goal, however that glory was overshadowed by events after the match on the pitch due to a pitch invasion by the Hun Supporters.
At this point in his career Davie Provan was one of the most distinctive player in British football with his long flowing permed curly hair, jersey outside the shorts, and socks flapping around his ankles. His exciting runs on the wing and fine crossing ability were a major part of a successful period for Celtic.
The 1980/81 season began slowly for Celtic, and Davie was out of the side for a short spell with injury. After the New Year, Celtic went on a fine unbeaten run and it was no coincidence that this came with his return to fitness in the team. Celtic were unbeaten from December 27th until May 2nd and won the title with a fine brand of attacking football with Davie supplying the ammunition for McGarvey, Nicholas and McCluskey to score the goals that propelled them to the League title. He had a wonderful game against Rangers in the 3-1 win in February 1981 and created the winning goal for Nicholas in the 1-0 win at Ibrox on April 18th. Four days later the League was clinched with a 3-2 win at Tannadice with Davie's crosses creating two of Celtic's three goals. He was crucial to the team.
In April 1981 he scored his first Scotland goal in the 3-1 win over Israel at Hampden in a World Cup qualifier. On May 23rd he had a fine game in Scotland's 1-0 win over Hampden at Wembley when Steve Archibald won Scotland a penalty after Davie's fine through ball, John Robertson scoring the winner from the subsequent spot kick.
In the Autumn of 1981 he had a magnificent run of form and scored a wonder goal against St Johnstone in the League Cup in a 4-1 win at Parkhead. In September he ran the Rangers defence ragged at Ibrox in Celtic's 2-0 win and also destroyed the Aberdeen defence at Pittodrie in an excellent Celtic 3-1 win. He had injury problems in the New Year of 1982 but came back strongly to help Celtic clinch their second successive title in May 1982. That summer he was part of the 22 man Scotland squad in Spain for the World Cup finals but sadly did not play in any of their three games.
In early 1982/83 he carried on where he had left off the previous season and he scored a fine goal against Dundee, a shot on the run, in Celtic's opening League game on September 4th on the day when the league flag was unfurled. Celtic reached the League Cup final on December 4th and won it by 2-1 against Rangers at Hampden. Davie had perhaps his finest ever game that day when he ripped Rangers left flank to shreds and it was he who created both Celtic goals and won the sponsors man of the match in the process. On January 1st 1983 Celtic won the Ne'erday derby 2-1 at Ibrox, their third victory over the Huns in nine happy weeks. In this game, Rangers fielded a different left back in the three games as they struggled to cope with Davie's fine wing play. On a sadder note Celtic lost their title to Dundee United despite a fine 4-2 win at Ibrox on the last day of the season.
Davie Hay took over as Celtic manager in July 1983 after Billy McNeill's resignation. This led to a rather inconsistent period for Celtic and Davie's form suffered slightly. On November 2nd he returned to form and helped Celtic to a glorious 5-0 win over Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA cup. Three days later Celtic won 2-1 at Ibrox but Celtic's mood was dampened with a bad knee injury to Davie Provan. John Colquhoun joined Celtic in December and gave Davie competition for the right wing position although Davie won his place back in the spring of 1984 and had a good game against Aberdeen in the 1984 Scottish Cup final as Celtic, with 10 men, went down bravely by 2-1.
In the autumn of 1984, Davie was in great form again and scored a memorable winner with a swerving free kick against Aberdeen on October 6th. His fine performance against Rapid Vienna helped Celtic to a 3-0 win which UEFA controversially overturned. After a spell out of the side he won his place back after a fine display against Aberdeen when he came on as a sub and changed the game in Celtic's favour with a 2-0 win. Celtic fought their way to the Scottish Cup final against Dundee United on May 18th 1985 and it was at Hampden that Davie Provan had his finest hour. With Celtic toiling and 1-0 down (after a Stewart Beedie goal) he swerved a glorious free kick past Hamish McAlpine from 25 yards, one of the finest goals ever scored at Hampden. Celtic pulverised United in the last 20 minutes and Frank McGarvey scored a dramatic late winner to give Davie Hay his first trophy as Celtic manager.
Davie Provan spent some time in the summer of 1985 in Australia with a team in Melbourne in order to get his fitness up and it worked as he was Celtic's best player in the early months of the season with rumours of another international call up coming his way. However Celtic went down tamely to Rangers by 3-0 at Ibrox on November 9th and Davie was substituted after feeling very ill during the game. He was later diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomiyietis (ME) an illness which causes great fatigue and although Davie later overcame it, it would be the end of his career. He bravely tried a comeback on January 15th against Motherwell as substitute for Owen Archdeacon but sadly retired in 1987.
Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest side travelled north to play Celtic on Provan's testimonial game. 42,000 Celtic fans turned out on a bitterly cold night on November 30th 1987, in the middle of Celtic's Centenary season, when Kenny Dalglish guested for Celtic on the night. At he end of the game Davie took an emotional lap of honour around Parkhead for one last time. After all he had achieved with Celtic it was a sad night for the fans who loved Davie on the Celtic right flank and his sublime crossing ability.
Now a successful pundit with Sky Sports and other media outlets (including Clyde One) he retains a high profile. He played 303 times for Celtic and scored 42 goals.
Davie was among the finest wingers of his generation in Britain and among the best wide men to ever don the Hoops. When you consider that puts Provan beside names like Patsy Gallacher, Tommy McInally, and Jimmy Johnstone it illustrates just what a talent he was.
| APPEARANCES |
|LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
|192 (14)||29||41 (1)||25 (1)||287 (16)|
Honours with Celtic
- Celtic for me (From "Its Rangers for me?")
Quotes"Davie Provan was running rings round Alex McDonald. After one of his runs he walked past wee Doddy and said: 'I could keep a beach ball away from you in a phone box!'"
Peter Grant on the funniest thing he ever heard in football (it was during a game v Rangers)
"I was brought up in a house that supported Rangers and voted Labour. I signed for Celtic & voted for Maggie [Thatcher] 3 times."
"Davie Provan had these tight jeans and loved wearing four-inch heels because he wanted to look taller."
The Bhoy in the Picture: Davie ProvanWritten by St Anthony
Wednesday, 01 April 2009
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The 1977/78 season was an unmitigated disaster for Celtic; fifth place in the league and no trophies won meant no European place for the first time since 1961, but perhaps the biggest debacle was the defeat to Kilmarnock in the Scottish cup replay at Rugby Park. Celtic were lucky to survive the first game and only a late Roddy MacDonald goal had saved the Celts’ blushes against the part time first division Ayrshire men. Killie deservedly won the replay and the gloomy mood of the huge number of Celtic fans who left Rugby Park on that dark February night and travelled back over the Fenwick Moors was compared by one scribe as akin to ‘Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow’.
There was one talking point amongst the Celtic support after the game and that was the performance of the Kilmarnock right winger, Davie Provan. He had tortured Celtic’s left flank in both cup ties, firstly giving Tommy Burns and then John Dowie a torrid time. The fact that Celtic had played two midfield men out of position at left back did not detract in any way from Provan’s sparkling performances.
In late summer 1978 I was in St. Gerard’s secondary school in Govan and my PE teacher was a guy called Jackie McGillivray who was at that time an Albion Rovers player and had previously been with St Mirren and Kilmarnock. On the morning it was announced that Davie Provan had signed for Celtic he was ecstatic and said it was Celtic’s best signing for years. And he was not wrong, although Provan’s transfer was not to be a smooth one. Kilmarnock were desperate for money but their board were not happy about his destination and only the threat of Provan going full time at a Paisley whiskey bond was to push the deal through. And so on September 18th 1978 Davie Provan became a Celtic player in a £125,000 record Scottish deal.
Davie was an immediate hit at Celtic and was a fans’ favourite for the next eight years. He was one of a select band of players who was comfortable playing in a wide position and was a superb crosser of the ball (a dying art in this part of the world) particularly whilst on the run and his entertaining style of play was to create many goals for Celtic in the following years. His distinctive flowing curly locks (look at him on TV these days and to think I used to presume he had naturally curly hair !), jersey hanging over the shorts and socks around the ankles made him a unique figure on the field of play.
Provan, unusually for a winger, was a marvellously consistent player and was a stand out even in an era when there were many quality wingers in the Scottish game such as Weir, Cooper, McLean, Milne, Scanlon and Doyle. The irony is that Provan’s arrival was seen as the end of Johnny Doyle’s Celtic career but Doyle was versatile enough to play in a number of positions and the two of them became great friends. Doyle even invested in a permed hair style and from a distance it was then difficult to tell them apart.
By all accounts Davie also had a sense of humour and was heard to remark to a snarling Alex MacDonald of Rangers in the heat of a Glasgow Derby, that he could ‘keep a beach ball off him in a telephone box…!’
He was an integral part of two of the finest Celtic forward lines of the modern era in the early 1980’s. The first being Provan, Sullivan, McGarvey, Burns and McCluskey and the second – Provan McStay, McGarvey, Burns and Nicholas. He had many great games for Celtic although perhaps his finest was the League Cup Final in December 1982, when he ripped the Rangers defence apart at Hampden, on a day of vile weather. Davie created both goals that day in the 2-1 victory and also a hatful of chances that were not taken, making the margin of victory tighter than it should have been.
At the start of the 1985-86 season Davie had a return to form and was giving his best performances for some time. Unfortunately his health was now affected by Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME), better known as post viral fatigue syndrome. Despite a courageous effort to continue his career he had to retire in 1987 and 42,000 Celtic fans turned out on a bitterly cold night to attend his testimonial against Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest side.
Davie Provan is currently an articulate newspaper columnist and erudite match summariser on Sky Sports.
Around 2000 I attended a charity night talk show in aid of the Little Sisters of the Poor in a parish hall in Paisley, the name of which I can’t recall, at the back of St Mirren’s old ground at Love Street. Brian Dempsey organised it and had assembled an impressive array of guests. As well as Dempsey, there was Paul Cooney, Hugh Keevins, Charlie Nicholas, Gerry McNee and Davie Provan in the hall that night.
The panellists had brought various items with them to auction in the course of the evening to help raise funds.
Nicholas brought what I heard described as a ‘scabby pennant’. Provan donated his first Scotland cap from 1979 and his 1985 Scottish Cup Final jersey, the game in which he had scored such a dramatic equaliser against Dundee United. Brian Dempsey at first refused to accept them saying that they were of tremendous personal and sentimental value to Provan and that he may regret this kind act in later years.
Provan, however, was adamant stating that he had the memories which were priceless and that he was delighted they should go to help finance such a worthy cause in helping the poor of the Third World. Gerry McNee won the auction with a benevolent bid of £1000 and he now had Provan’s 1985 cup final top to go alongside his famous ‘Jimmy McGrory’ medal. The elderly Mother Superior in the hall was totally overcome with emotion, never thinking for a minute that such a vast sum of money would have been raised on the night for the Sisters’ good deeds.
It wasn’t as if Davie Provan shared the faith of the Nuns he was assisting that evening but he still gave generously. I could recall a packed Jungle many years before chanting ;
‘There’s only one Davie Provan…!’
And having witnessed his charitable deed that night in Paisley, I knew there was indeed still, only one Davie Provan.
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