- Published January 12, 2021
“Steady Eddie” was the perfect description for Eddie McLaren, who was a regular in Reading’s defence during the mid-1950s. Born in Dundee he travelled south to join Blackpool, his first professional club, but left there and signed for Reading on September 29, 1952 after completing his National Service.
Originally used as a defensive left-half, he later switched to right-back and it was from that position that he scored his three first team goals. Eddie made his Reading debut on Boxing Day 1953 in a 2-2 draw away to Torquay United. His last game for the Biscuitmen was a 4-1 defeat away to Halifax Town on April 11, 1959. He gained Southern Professional Floodlit Cup runners-up medals with Reading in 1967 and 1958, but his greatest game was in the memorable FA Cup tie against First Division giants Manchester United on January 8, 1955, when Reading held a team packed with England internationals to a 1-1 draw at Elm Park in front of a capacity crowd of 26,500.
Eddie was a tough and battle hardened defender who never gave anything less than his best in any of the 207 games he played in Reading’s first team. After leaving Elm Park he continued to live in Reading whilst working in a glassware shop in the town and playing part-time for Gloucester City in the Southern League.
I had the pleasure of meeting Eddie on several occasions at a “Singing for the Brain” group at Saint Mary’s Church in Purley where my wife was serving teas to local residents suffering from Alzheimer’s. Although Eddie’s general memory was not strong, his recollection of football matches he had played in was pin-sharp. We would chat about some of his games for Reading, and he was very proud of some of the newspaper articles and match reports chronicling his career which he brought along to show me.
Eddie was a true gentleman who kept his broad Scottish accent and keen sense of humour right to the end. We are all the poor for his passing.