Alec's arrival left McCrae facing an uncertain future
Feb 18 2013
by Jeff Holmes, Paisley Daily Express
When teenager Alec Stewart put pen to paper on a professional contract for St Mirren in November 1929, many Buddies believed it signalled the end of the road for a Paisley favourite.
Davie McCrae had been a revelation in front of goal and, naturally, his ability to lodge the ball between the posts had provoked much interest.
By contrast, 19-year-old Stewart had started out with the amateurs of Queen’s Park and had taken on an apprenticeship as a plasterer.
He was named after his dad, also a professional player of some note.
Hailing from Perth, Stewart senior had kept goal for both Falkirk and Partick Thistle but his son was more concerned with doing the business at the other end of the park and had scored six goals in a little over two months, including one against St Johnstone in his native town.
Since decanting to Paisley, Stewart had also been capped by Scotland Amateurs against their Irish counterparts in Londonderry.
But what would the emergence of young Stewart mean to the aforementioned McCrae?
Saints manager John Morrison had this to say on the matter: “All that stuff about Liverpool wanting Davie is utter bunkum.
“Of course, he has attracted interest but not so much as a telephone call has been taken officially on the matter.
“He is an important member of our team.”
However, just 24 hours after the ‘official’ word from Mr Thomson, Arsenal confirmed they were admiring McCrae and had already watched him strut his stuff for Saints. In fact, Highbury officials were due to meet that very night to discuss putting in a bid for ‘dashing Davie’.
The St Mirren board, pre-empting interest in the striker, also met that night and decided to circulate the name of McCrae to those interested parties south of the border.
It seems that, for some time, McCrae had been keen to try his luck in England ... and Saints were very interested in cashing in on their saleable asset.
They were, at that time, being hampered in their quest to improve their standing by a distinct lack of patronage in Paisley.
Crowds were averaging just 5,000 and what rankled most was that many Buddies were heading to Glasgow each Saturday to watch Rangers in action at Ibrox.
An appeal was made for Buddies to back their team in a match against league leaders Aberdeen at Greater Love Street and they responded – all 10,000 of them.
Home fans had a 1-0 victory to cheer and, after the game, the St Mirren directors insisted they were greatly heartened by both the win and the increased attendance.
Willie Walker, who was St Mirren chairman at the time, said: “Gates like that every second Saturday and we would be fine. Halve Saturday’s total and the need to sell players becomes a sad reality.”
Since winning the Scottish Cup in 1926, the club had spent the biggest part of its savings on giving Buddies a ground to be proud of but it seems they weren’t too impressed with the fare on offer on the pitch.
So, could the club hang on to Davie McCrae? Find out next week.