Portsmouth mourning death of promotion-winning captain
Pompey are mourning the death of fourth division promotion-winning captain Joe Laidlaw.
The man who smashed in 17 goals from midfield in the 1979-80 season and played a key role in Frank Burrows’ side delivering success, died yesterday at the age of 71.
Laidlaw’s goal return made him joint top scorer with Colin Garwood as Pompey finished fourth and sealed the final spot to go up.
After arriving from Doncaster for £15,000 in the 1979 close season, Laidlaw missed the opening game through suspension but went on to play in every ensuing fixture where his drive and goal threat made him a popular figure with the Fratton faithful.
His form also saw him named player of the season at the end of a memorable campaign, with Laidlaw later part of the team for the League Cup clash against Liverpool at Anfield in October 1980 - where the travelling Blues faithful outsung The Kop in the eventual 4-1 loss.
Laidlaw’s goal return from midfield for Pompey underlined his quality, as he bagged 23 finishes from 75 appearances before joining Hereford United in December 1980.
After his professional playing career finished he returned to the area and turned out for Waterlooville, as well as managing the likes of Petersfield, Fareham, Chichester and Selsey.Laidlaw was a well-known figure locally and was a fixture on the parks scene, playing at a good level into his 60s as well as appearing for the Pompey Former Players’ Association team.
The link between Laidlaw and Pompey looks set to endure, with grandson, Harvey, involved in the current academy set-up and appearing in their extra-time FA Youth Cup defeat to Cheltenham last night. Granddaughter Grace is part of Pompey Women’s development squad.
Pompey legend Alan Knight paid tribute to Laidlaw, hailing him as one of the most talented midfielders he ever worked with.
Knight said: ‘Joe was my first captain after I got into the first team and he looked after me.
‘He was a great player, and those who were lucky enough to see him play will tell you what a fantastically skilful midfielder he was with outstanding vision.
‘He could pick players out with passes others wouldn’t even think about.
‘Off the pitch, I can’t lie, he was a bit of a rogue!
‘I can remember us both getting into trouble under Frank Burrows, after we’d both been out on New Year’s Eve. Losing 3-0 to Aldershot the next day didn’t help.
‘We conceded three near-post corners. I blamed Joe for that - because I didn’t get an invite to his party!
‘He was involved with the former players’ team and played locally in the Sunday league football until a late age. That shows the passion he had for the game.
‘Joe really was a fantastic player though, he was something special.’
Pompey will pay tribute to Laidlaw’s memory with a minute’s applause against AFC Wimbledon tomorrow.