Everton’s history is replete with the endeavours of fine but largely unsung utility men. Alan Harper and Sandy Brown are the most conspicuous examples of this crucial breed of player, but others have also filled the mantle. Few, however, have been as versatile as David Reid. Signed as a left winger, Reid played out his Everton career as an inside forward, half back before eventually settling as a makeshift centre half, where he played the finest football of his career.
Signed from Distillery in Northern Ireland in the summer of 1920, he was intended to form a left-sided partnership with Charlie Crossley, who had joined Everton from Sunderland. ‘These two players are likely to make their mark when the real competition starts,’ reported the Liverpool Courier of the annual Blues v Whites trial match. ‘Reid's runs and centres, and Crossley's dribbling, were pleasing factors.’
Yet Reid scarcely got a chance on the flank once the 1920/21 season got under way and when he did play there flattered to deceive. The Liverpool Post and Mercury were regularly critical of his displays, saying he lacked incision and was prone to over elaboration. ‘[Reid’s] only fault was a super abundance of passes to his partner on the right instead of a variety of methods, especially down the centre,’ they sniped of one performance. ‘Reid seemed to lack the necessary dash to forge his way through the home defence,’ recorded another correspondent of a rare outing on the wing. Indeed the bulk of his 21 league appearances in 1920/21 came as inside forward. By the time of the 1921 Blues v Whites match it was noted: ‘Reid does not progress.’
As Everton struggled to make an impression in the early-1920s, Reid was a peripheral player. The turning point came when Neil McBain was injured at the end of 1923 and Reid was surprisingly called to deputise at centre half. ‘Considering the position he was playing in, [Reid] gave a highly creditable display,’ recorded the Post and Mercury of his new role. His performance in an FA Cup tie against Preston North End prompted another correspondent to opine that he ‘was the best man on the field. Everton are indeed fortunate in having such an understudy to Neil McBain.’
McBain recovered his place but thereafter Reid was considered an adept reserve to call upon for the Everton defence. His stirring displays in the closing stages of the 1925/26 season saw him elevated to vice captain the following campaign, which he started as first choice alongside Hunter Hart and William Brown. But, alas, injury struck and he struggled thereafter to reclaim his place from Albert Virr.
Reid later returned to Ireland with Ballymena and although international honours eluded him he represented the Irish League on four occasions.