When Hull City signed experienced inside right Willie Buchan for £6,000 in January 1948, it was an early statement of intent by the Hull City board that led, three months later, to the recruitment of England international Raich Carter as City’s player-manager. Buchan was signed under the tenure of Major Frank Buckley and promptly scored two penalties on his debut in a 5-3 trouncing of Rotherham United – good start. However within two months Buchan, who had not added to those two goals, was dropped and placed on the transfer list alongside several more long-standing colleagues in the City squad. Buckley evidently relented at the end of March and Buchan scored on his return in a 3-0 win over New Brighton. However within a fortnight Buckley was gone, Carter was recruited and Buchan was back in the first XI, adding two more goals to his tally by the end of the season.
Buchan began the 1948/49 season in the first XI but contributed only two goals to the club’s remerkable nine game winning streak that opened the season and began the elevation of manager Carter to legendary status. In October 1948 City signed Danish forward Viggo Jensen – Jensen assumed the inside left role, Carter switched to inside right and Willie Buchan was left without a shirt. He reurned for 14 games in December, January and February, contributing six goals including a brace in the famous Christmas Day 3-2 win over title challengers Rotherham United in front of City’s record gate of 49,655 (though that record was surpassed a couple of months later when 55,019 witnessed Manchester United’s visit in the FA Cup Sixth Round). With Carter returned to inside right in early March, Buchan was again out of the team and started only four more matches as the Tigers swept to the Division Three North title and promotion back to the Second Division. With City elevated to a new level, Raich did not use Buchan at all in the first team and in November 1949 he was sold along with full back Norman Fowler for a £5,000 fee.
William Ralston Murray Buchan was born and raised in Grangemouth on the Forth Estuary. After spending his teenage years playing for Grange Rovers, Buchan was signed by Scottish League giants Glasgow Celtic in January 1933 amid frenzied interest from a dozen or more Scottish sides including Auld Firm rivals Glasgow Rangers. He made his debut for Celtic at the start of the 1933/34 season and quickly became a fans’ favourite – hardly surprising as in four seasons he started 135 games and scored 59 goals. He was a key player in the Celtic side that won the Scottish Championship in 1935/36, the club’s first league victory for ten years. He was later Celtic’s main man in the 1937 Scottish Cup final, creating the first goal and scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory over Aberdeen attended by a remarkable 146,000 people crammed into Hampden Park. Shortly after that victory Celtic sold Buchan to Blackpool for a £10,000 fee that was at the time the record paid for a Scottish player. He spent two seasons at Bloomfield Road and was top scorer in both of them, scoring 12 goals in his first season and 10 more in 1938/39 as he acclimatised to playing in the English First Division. The onset of World War Two halted his career at Blackpool and he returned to Scotland for a time to play wartime games for Celtic and Stenhousemuir. He became a Sargeant in the Royal Air Force during the war, like many of his footballing contemporaries he served as a Physical Training instructor, and played further wartime games for a rich tapestry of clubs – Manchester United, Leicester City, Bath City, Aberaman and Hamilton Academicals. He returned to Blackpool in 1946 and by the end of 1947 Buchan had amassed 35 league goals in 100 starts for the Tangerines – form that encouraged his transfer to Hull City in January 1948.
Buchan signed for Gateshead in November 1949 and spent three and a half seasons at Redheugh Park, making 88 league starts for the Division Three North side and coaching the side in his final season. In July 1953 Buchan was tempted to join Coleraine as player/manager, but he left that role in January 1954 by mutual consent. He joined Scottish side East Stirlingshire for the 1955/56 season, playing well into his 40s. After football Buchan remained in Scotland and worked in the chemicals industry in the his home town of Grangemouth. He died in Polmont in July 2003 at the fine age of 88.
While at Celtic, Buchan twice played for the Scottish League XI against their Irish counterparts in 1935 and 1937, and in 1943 he played a wartime international game for Scotland in which Raich Carter scored twice to inspire his England side to a 4-0 victory – however he was never selected for full international honours.
Date/Place of Birth: 17 October 1914, Grangemouth
Hull City First Game: 17 January 1948, Rotherham United H (Division Three North), 33 years, 92 days old
Hull City Final Game: 7 May 1949, Carlisle United A (Division Three North), 34 years, 202 days old
Grange Rovers, Glasgow Celtic (1933-1937), Blackpool (1937-1948), Hull City (1948-1949), Gateshead (1949-1953), Coleraine (1953-1954), East Stirlingshire (1955-1956)
Hull City Record
Career: 46 apps, 13 goalsWillie Buchan