Shades of Schaedler


(c) The Scotsman


A quick plug for a new football book, Shades: The Short Life and Tragic Death of Erich Schaedler, written by Colin Leslie, which will be launched today at Easter Road Stadium, home to Hibernian Football Club.  Shades tells the story of the legendary Hibs full-back Erich Schaedler, who started his footballing career in my hometown of Peebles and is mentioned in the two books I’ve authored about the local football clubs here, Peebles Rovers and Tweeddale Rovers.


In C’mon the Dale – The History of Tweeddale Rovers Football Club, I wrote the following about Schaedler:


“It was in the late 1960s that the possibly the most famous player associated with Tweeddale Rovers wore one of their jerseys.  The son of a German soldier who came to Scotland as a prisoner-of-war during World War II, got married and settled in the Scottish Borders, Erich Schaedler played his early football for both Tweeddale and Peebles Rovers.  Later, he signed for junior Edinburgh side Melbourne Thistle, then for Stirling Albion and finally for Hibernian, where he gained legendary status playing at full-back.  The pinnacle of his career came in spring 1974 when he played for Scotland – ironically, given his family background, against West Germany in Frankfurt.  A few months later, he joined the Scotland squad for the 1974 World Cup, which again took place in West Germany.  Thereafter, Schaedler played for Dundee in the late 1970s, returned to Hibernian in 1981 and rounded off his footballing career at Dumbarton in 1985.


“Schaedler’s experiences on the Peebles footballing scene were erratic to say the least.  He started off as an attacker, but during his first stint at Tweeddale Rovers there was a shortage of defenders and he was moved to the back of the field.  Subsequently, Peebles Rovers spotted him and signed him as a full-back, intending to play him on the left.  However, Peebles Rovers’ existing left-back was playing so well that Schaedler failed to get a team-place and he eventually returned to the other Rovers, Tweeddale.  Then the Peebles Rovers left-back who’d kept him out of the team broke a leg, and he departed from Tweeddale Rovers a second time.


“Barely had he returned to Peebles Rovers, however, than an injury left him with a damaged nerve in his neck and prevented him from playing for weeks.  By the time he’d recovered, the other Peebles Rovers left-back had also recovered from his broken leg and his place was gone again.


“However, a recommendation by a friend soon moved Schaedler north to Melbourne Thistle in Edinburgh – and the rest was history.”


The tragic and well-publicised circumstances of Erich Schaedler’s death – he took his own life on Christmas Eve, 1985 – mean that too often these days his name is known for the wrong reasons.  Let’s hope this new book will shine at least some light on the thing he should be remembered for, his remarkable talent as a football player.


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