A tribute to David Eccles, our goalkeeping coach of 25 years, who tragically passed away on Friday.
Stuart Brown, Chairman
David, Dave, Davie and, to thousands of school pupils, Mr Eccles. By whichever moniker you remember him, without exception the common themes are respect, admiration and affection. His tragic and untimely passing has brought great sadness to everyone who had the privilege of knowing him, across a wide range of walks of life.
On behalf of the Club Board and indeed everyone across the Stirling Albion family, I extend condolences to his wife Margaret, his daughter Joanne and other family members, at this difficult time. Our thoughts are with them all.
I have known David since our days at the High School of Stirling and as two years my elder and already an imposing figure, I held him in awe, tinged with no little fear! As his journey through life progressed, I suspect I was far from being alone! David displayed a rare mix of character – quiet by nature but powerful of voice, unassuming and humble, but larger than life.
Although our friendship goes back over 50 years, there are others better placed to provide comment on his long association with Stirling Albion. I’ve no doubt the words and sentiments that follow will resonate with everyone who was privileged to be a part of David’s lifelong football adventure.
David will forever be remembered and always missed, in and around Forthbank Stadium and indeed across the wider Scottish football fraternity.
Rest in Peace, David; it is your turn to be in safe hands.
Stewart Taylor, Former Head of Youth Development, Coaching
In 1995 Stirling Albion FC made the decision to join the Scottish Football League Youth Development Initiative. Tricia Chillas, daughter of chairman Peter McKenzie, Andy Gould, at that time the SFA Football Development Officer, and Ray Ross, a local football man, pulled off a master stroke when they appointed Dave Eccles as the YD Department Goalkeeping Coach.
Dave was a loyal servant to Stirling Albion and over the next 25 years he helped in the development of so many great young goalkeepers who represented our club.
Iain Turner was the first of his many successful protégés. A string of other keepers followed, either to play regular first-team football or to provide cover for the first team. Scott Christie, Danny Cawley, Darren Dolan, Jamie Cleland, Cammy Binnie, Ronan Fallens and Callum Law all benefited from Dave’s professionalism and precision as they pursued a career in professional football. There were many others who attended his renowned training sessions at Doune Castle’s Moray Park – every Monday night – in all weathers!!
Dave was one of the first coaches in Scotland to achieve his UEFA A Licence for Goalkeeping.
Dave, who himself was selected to play for the Scottish Amateur FA as a young man, was also involved with manager Allan Moore’s first-team squad in promotion-winning campaigns. Myles Hogarth was one of many who hold Dave in high regard.
A teacher for his whole career at Stirling High School, Dave ran a successful table tennis club for many years but in the 1990s I persuaded him to become involved in school football.
Dave became President of Forth Valley Schools’ FA and he joined the Scottish Schools’ FA Council.
More importantly he became the goalkeeping coach for the National Schoolboy teams at U15, U16 and U18 level. In this role he worked with many keepers who still play top-level football or have only recently retired – Allan McGregor, Callum Reidford, Andy McNeil and Lenny Wilson to name a few.
Not many people will know that when the English Schools FA celebrated their Centenary Year in 2004 they played a challenge game against a Rest of the World Select. The game was played at Aston Villa in front of a 20,000 crowd and Dave was appointed as the GK coach for the challengers. Boy did he love that!!
Dave Eccles was a much admired, highly-respected gentleman of football and he offered so much to a wide range of young people through education and sport. He will be sadly missed but we will all have special memories of an incredibly special man and good friend to so many.
Niall Marshall, Head of Youth Development, Coaching
Although I only worked with Davie for a short period of time at Stirling Albion, it was clear to me in those few months what a huge impact he had made on the Club. Players and Coaches alike held Davie in high esteem and his commitment and drive for Youth Development was clear. I enjoyed getting to know someone who was incredibly experienced, knowledgeable and friendly.
What became clear from talking to those who knew Davie was how much more he had given to the greater football community in Scotland over a very long period of time – something which the humble Davie had not shared with me. This has been reflected in the outpouring of grief and memories we have seen since the incredibly sad news of his passing.
For me, it was a real pleasure working alongside Davie for these past few months and getting to know him. I greatly enjoyed his company and was looking forward to welcoming him back to Forthbank during his retirement to watch the progress of the players he had helped develop. I am greatly saddened that this will now not be possible, and my thoughts go out to all of his family. I just hope Davie knows his huge legacy at Stirling Albion and within football in general will live on.
David Brown, Head of Youth, Administration
In May this year, when Davie signalled his intent to me to stand down from his duties with Stirling Albion Youth Development, I expressed my heartfelt thanks to him – not only for his most recent involvement with YD, but for all his work over the last 25 years. I was so much looking forward to properly recognising his outstanding service when football returned to normality.
We have all reaped the benefits of Davie’s enthusiasm and love of the game. A long line of quality goalkeepers bears testament to this. I recently spent time with him on a winter’s evening in Doune, training a number of young goalkeepers in weather that could only be described as biblical – what speaks volumes is that attendance was 100%, and that Davie carried on as if everything was ordinary – despite the mud rising above our knees and conversation halted by the gale force winds. A true testament to the respect he garnered from his players, and his own unwavering commitment.
Since I first got involved at Stirling Albion back in the mid-90s, Davie was an ever present. In that sense, I have never known the club without him. Without fail he had a friendly word in passing and his booming voice was inimitable.
Others are far better qualified to speak to his legacy – I can only say that I am certain the football club is worse off without him, and forever shaped by his contribution. I am incredibly saddened by his passing and extend my condolences to his family. I hope that they are able to find some comfort in knowing the positive impact that he had on so many.