It’s a long way from Inverness to Chelsea – but DUNCAN SHEARER made that more than 25 years ago, following in the footsteps of older brother David in leaving the Clachnacuddin club and heading south. Chelsea boss John Neal - incidentally an ex-Swindon Town player - had signed David at Middlesbrough six years earlier and now the chance had come for 21 year old Duncan.
It was February 1986 before he made his League debut - and scored - against Leicester. But a few weeks later, after just one further game for the Londoners, Duncan was on his way to Huddersfield, where his career began to blossom.
This time he hit a hat-trick on his debut and in the following season, 1986/87, played in every game, bagging 25 goals. He almost earned the freedom of Huddersfield when he grabbed four in the local derby against Bradford City at Christmas !
Duncan joined Swindon in June 1988, when Lou Macari signed him as a replacement for Leicester-bound Jimmy Quinn. “Pre-season went well for me”, he recalls, “I got seven goals in 8 games. But when the season started, I couldn’t buy a goal !” Duncan had to wait until the seventh game, a 3-2 win at Watford to break his duck.
“I scored on my debut for every club I played for except Swindon”, he explained. But despite only registering four by the turn of the year, Duncan still managed 16 for the season.
And in 1989/90, under Ossie Ardiles, his strike partnership with Steve White really took off as they hit 27 goals apiece to propel Town into the play-offs. Steve remembers his strike partner well. “Duncan was the cleanest hitter of a ball I’ve ever seen”, he commented, “and he was deadly in the box”. Sadly, their combined efforts were in vain as the well-documented demotion shook the club to its core.
Swindon struggled to keep their heads above relegation waters after that blow, but Mr Shearer kept banging in the goals with another 23. His best haul, however, came in 1991/92 when he had amassed 32 - including ten in 11 Cup games - by the middle of March. Town promptly sold him to top-of-the-table Blackburn at a bargain £750,000 !
But Rovers slumped to six straight defeats and Duncan was left out. They gained promotion, but manager Kenny Dalglish decided to sign another Shearer - Alan from Southampton - for £3 million. Duncan duly returned to his homeland to sign for Aberdeen.
He spent five years at Pittodrie and was top scorer in his first two seasons there, prompting the Scotland selectors to hand Duncan the first of seven caps at the age of 31.
In 1997 he joined Inverness Caledonian Thistle and continued to play until just before his 37th birthday. He went back to Aberdeen in December 2002 as assistant to manager Steve Paterson, but they were both sacked sixteen months later.
Duncan was manager of Highland League club Buckie Thistle until 2008, but then set up his own company. “I provided prestige travel for corporate days out”, he explained, “not just for sporting events but for anything they ask for”. Married to Michele, they have two children, Hayley and William.
(First Published by Wiltshire Newspapers/Swindon Advertiser October 2005)