Aberdeen-born Busby Babe Alex Dawson has died at the age of 80.
Dawson was a regular in the Manchester United side after the Munich air disaster in 1958, finding the net on 54 occasions in 93 games under Sir Matt Busby.
Upon leaving United in 1961, he became a firm favourite at Preston North End, rattling in over 100 goals and becoming known as the “Black Prince of Deepdale”. He later turned out for Brighton and Brentford.
Dawson grew up in Aberdeen and attended Seaton School, playing in the final of the Primary Schools Cup in 1950 when Seaton beat Skene Street 5-0.
His parents relocated to Hull and he joined United from the Tigers’ youth setup in 1957. Dawson scored on his debut for the Red Devils in April 1957, a 2-0 win over Burnley, and followed that up with goals in games against Cardiff City and West Brom in the next seven days.
The plane crash on February 6, on the way back from a European game against Red Star Belgrade, claimed the lives of eight Manchester United players, with 15 others also perishing in the disaster.
Just 13 days afterwards, United were back on the field against Sheffield Wednesday, with Dawson finding the net in a 3-0 win.
Dawson recalled in a 2008 interview how he had expected to be on the flight, but Busby had told him he was not required. After the accident, he phoned his mother immediately to let her know he was safe.
“I thought it can’t be right. You are hoping it can’t be right,” added Dawson. “But of course we knew it was right once we switched the news on.”
The crowning moment of his debut season at Old Trafford came in the FA Cup semi-final replay. At the age of 18, Dawson plundered a hat-trick against the Cottagers in a 5-3 win that earned the club a final berth, becoming the only player to score a hat-trick in an FA Cup semi-final.
His most prolific season for the Red Devils came in 1960-61, where he hit 20 goals in 34 games. He was sold to Preston for £18,000 in October 1961, again scoring on his debut against Rotherham United.
He reached another FA Cup final in 1964. Dawson had tasted defeat against Bolton in 1958 and he was again on the losing side under the Twin Towers, despite scoring, in a 3-2 defeat against West Ham.
In total he racked 114 goals in 197 games for Preston, finishing as top scorer in four season, before moving on to Bury in 1967. He had three years at Brighton and a loan spell at Brentford before finishing his career at Corby Town.
“I remember watching Manchester United at Pittodrie in 1948 and they were losing 3-0 to Aberdeen,” added Dawson. “I said, ‘I don’t think much of this English football’. Then United turned on the style and won 5-3.
“After that I told my parents I was going to play for United and luckily I was spotted by Jimmy Murphy.”