Willie Duff

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Willie Duff
Personal information
Full name William Duff
Date of birth (1935-02-06)6 February 1935
Place of birth Winchburgh, Scotland
Date of death 30 August 2004(2004-08-30) (aged 69)
Place of death Edinburgh, Scotland
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
Slateford Athletic
19??–1952 Easthouses Lily
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1952–1958 Hearts 62 (0)
1956–1958 Charlton Athletic (loan)
1958–1963 Charlton Athletic 213 (0)
1963–1967 Peterborough United 118 (0)
1967–1970 Dunfermline Athletic 35 (0)
1971 Raith Rovers 1 (0)
1971–1972 East Stirlingshire 15 (0)
1973–1974 Albion Rovers 3 (0)
National team
1954 Scottish League XI[1] 1 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

William "Willie" Duff (6 February 1935 – 30 August 2004) was a Scottish professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper.

Born in Winchburgh, West Lothian, Duff grew up in western Edinburgh, attending Corstorphine Primary School and Boroughmuir High School.[2] He originally played as a left-back while with juvenile side Slateford Athletic but deputised in goal on one occasion when the side's regular custodian didn't turn up and retained the role afterwards.[2] He caught the attention of Easthouses Lily with his performances in his new position and worked as a joiner while playing for them in the East of Scotland League.[3]

In 1952, Hearts' manager Tommy Walker paid £200 for Duff's signature and he moved to Tynecastle as back-up for Jimmy Watters.[3] After two years playing reserve football, Duff earned his chance in the first team in the 1954–55 season. He made his debut in a League Cup tie against Dundee and retained his position in the side as Hearts went on to lift the trophy, their first in 48 years, by defeating Motherwell 4–2 in the final. The following year, he added a Scottish Cup winners medal to his collection as Hearts beat Celtic 3–1 in the final. Celtic's goal was the only one Duff conceded in the entire cup run, encompassing games against Forfar, Stirling Albion, Rangers and Raith Rovers (twice), while his display in the final was "brilliant", in the opinion of teammate and Scotland internationalist Dave Mackay.[3]

During the 1950s, all British men were obliged to fulfil a period of national service and in the latter part of 1956, Duff received call-up papers to the army's Royal Horse Artillery, based in Surrey.[4] Rather than commute back to Edinburgh from his southern barracks for weekend games, he guested for London side Charlton Athletic, then in the lower reaches of the English First Division. The Addicks had struggled to replace their legendary goalkeeper Sam Bartram since his retirement earlier that year but Duff quickly established the Charlton goalkeeper's position as his own with a string of accomplished performances,[5] which led to his selection in the Army's representative side.[3] He signed permanently for Charlton when his national service was over, for a fee of £6,500,[4] and made over 200 appearances in seven years at The Valley.

Duff joined Peterborough United in 1963 and after several seasons with the Posh returned to Scotland with Dunfermline Athletic. He enjoyed an Indian Summer to his career with the Pars, helping the side reach the 1968–69 Cup Winners' Cup semi-final.[3] He retired after leaving Dunfermline but made a number of brief comebacks to cover for injuries, assisting Raith Rovers, East Stirlingshire and Albion Rovers in this manner.[3]

After his final retirement, Duff established a joinery business in Edinburgh. He emigrated to the USA, where his son Bill is domiciled in Washington DC, in the 1980s but returned to Edinburgh in 2003. He died suddenly on 30 August 2004, whilst playing bowls with friends.[5]


  1. ^ "Willie Duff - Scotland Football League Record from 18 Nov 1954 to 18 Nov 1954 clubs - Heart Of Midlothian". 
  2. ^ a b Heart of Midlothian Official Annual 1955 (Paperback). Heart of Midlothian. 1955. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Death of Hearts hero of 1956, keeper Willie Duff". The Scotsman. 1 September 2004. 
  4. ^ a b Hoggan, Andrew (1995). Hearts in Art. Mainstream. p. 56. ISBN 1-85158-736-5. 
  5. ^ a b "The PFA pays tribute to goalkeeping legend Willie Duff who died last week!". Professional Footballer's Association. 6 September 2004. 

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