David Paton: An appreciation

By SFC Media time Thu 10 Sep Club
Photo by Getty | Paton (left), O'Brien, Williams

Club historian David Bull remembers ex-Saint David Paton, who has died aged 76.

Scotland was a happy hunting ground for Southampton manager Ted Bates, especially when he sniffed a bargain.

Which is why he missed Terry Paine’s wedding in July 1963, so as to sign Scotland Youth international Dave Paton, a 19-year-old centre-half, on a free transfer from St Mirren.

He was able to adapt to a mickey-taking dressing room by getting on the good side of George O’Brien: “There were not a lot of people George liked,” he assured me. “Fortunately, I was one of them.” It helped that he babysat for George – and for Ian White, too.

And he certainly endeared himself to his teammates as lead singer with a group called the Sunsets, paid in beer to perform at the After Eight nightclub in Shirley.

Goalkeeper Gerry Gurr was lead guitar, with forward Mick Judd on drums. Dave had a broad Scottish brogue, but Gurr insists that “he was more comprehensible when singing than when he was speaking – like Roy Orbison.” 

The three Saints and their friend Tony Cattoire who made up the Sunsets. Left to right: Paton, Judd, Cattoire, Gurr.

After 15 appearances in six years as a standby centre-half, Dave was sold to Jimmy Melia’s Aldershot. News of the transfer was conveyed to Gurr by Ted Bates, as they boarded the team bus. “I’ve just sold your singer,” he was told. 

After Aldershot, Dave joined Margate, where the FA Cup draws meant that he had to mark a future Saint and an ex-Saint, in turn.

In 1971/72, the opponent was Ted MacDougall, who scored nine times in Bournemouth’s 11-0 win. That indignity would follow Dave home to Scotland. “Here’s Ted coming,” he’d be teased. 

Then, in 1972/73, Margate entertained Spurs, whose centre-forward, Martin Chivers, was having a hard time with Bill Nicholson, his manager. He begged Dave not to make him laugh: “Nicholson will do me.” 

After Margate, Dave played a bit, and then coached in Irvine, north of Ayr, where he worked as a forklift driver – until he became involved in the electronics industry. Having semi- retired in 1998, he continued to live in Ayrshire, working part-time for a courier company. 

Dave Paton

13th December 1943 – 8th September 2020 

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