Tributes following death of ex-Doncaster Rovers 'fan favourite' Joe Laidlaw
Tributes have been paid to a former Doncaster Rovers star dubbed as a ‘fan favourite’ following his death.
Joe Laidlaw, who clocked up more than 140 appearances for the club during the mid 1970s, died last week at the age of 71.
A combative midfielder, Laidlaw was at Rovers between 1976 and 1979, scoring 28 goals and becoming a hit with the Belle Vue faithful.
Across the course of the weekend, some of Laidlaw’s other clubs – Portsmouth and Carlisle United – paid tribute following his death last Thursday.
Born in Whickham in 1950, he began his career with Middlesbrough, where he played under future Rovers manager Stan Anderson, before moving to Carlisle United.
In 1972-73 he was a key member of the Carlisle team that won promotion to the First Division for the only time in their history, although they were relegated a year later.
In June 1976, Anderson signed him for Rovers and he missed only one league game in each of his first two seasons.
He became a firm favourite with the fans, his rotund appearance belying the fact that he was extremely fit. He fell out of favour under Anderson’s successor, Billy Bremner, and in June 1979 he was sold to Portsmouth for £15,000.
Appointed club captain, he led Pompey to promotion from Division Four in his first season. After spells with Hereford United and Mansfield Town he settled on the south coast and managed Fareham Town and Chichester City, as well as playing local football well into his 50s.
His grandson Harvey is involved in the current academy set-up at Portsmouth and appeared in thei club’s extra-time FA Youth Cup defeat to Cheltenham last week while granddaughter Grace is part of Pompey Women’s development squad.
Portsmouth 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.
‘Joe really was a fantastic player though, he was something special.’