Coal, Communism & Central Park, Cowdenbeath

It's unlikely that any football ground has ever been closer to a coal mine than Central Park.









Cowdenbeath was a country village before coal was discovered when holes were bored in to the ground in a search for iron ore. The population increased to the extent that the village became a town, and one of the new miners attracted to the area was Laurent Storione, a French-speaking Italian anarchist who had fled to Scotland after becoming wanted by the authorities in France. He married a Scottish woman named Annie Cowan, who gave birth to 5 children called Armonie, Anarchie, Autonomie, Germinal and Liberte. He and a trio of Communist friends formed the Anarchist Communist League, who opened a bookshop in the town and whose members once rampaged down the high street, breaking windows and looting goods from shop window displays in an apparent attempt to kickstart a revolution.

Laurent Storione died in 1922 and the ACL disappeared, but the Communist Party remained a force in local politics; the next-door constituency of West Fife returned the CPGB's Willie Gallagher as its MP from 1935 to 1950. 


When the above photo was taken in 1932 Cowdenbeath FC were enjoying a decent era in the old Scottish First Division; in fact they were Fife's best team. Raith, Dunfermline and East Fife were all in the Second Division. It was also a boom time for the town's mines, like Pit number 7 whose buildings are behind the stand to the right in the picture. 4 years later Fife Mining School opened in the town and rare was the Cowden laddie whose future didn't lie in the workings underground all week and at Central Park on a Saturday.

Cowdenbeath FC were relegated in 1934 but they were'nt out of the top tier very long. They won the Second Division title in storming fashion in 1939, winning 28 of their 34 matches, drawing 4 and scoring 120 goals in the process. 60 points was a record for a Scottish team in the 2 points-for-a-win days, and equates to 88 points today. Rab Walls missed the opening match of the season but went on to score 54 of those 120 goals, in 33 appearances. The team were all ready to kick off at the top level - Rab was 31 years old and at the top of his career - only for WW2 to put a stop to football, after the first 5 matches of the 1939/40 season, for the next 7 years. Cowden had made a disaapointing start to the season, and didn't last long in the Regional League East that was set up to provide cometition during the war, but it still seems outrageous that, when the war was over and the League resumed, Cowdenbeath were placed in the second-tier Division B, jettisoned from the top division along with fellow small fry, Arbroath, Alloa, Albion Rovers and Ayr United, while those gentlemen amateurs, Queen's Park, were promoted in spite of having done nothing to deserve it. Rab emigrated to Canada, the club finished at the bottom of the table and have spent but a single season in the top division ever since, after winning promotion in 1970. 

You'll not need telling that there's no Communist Party in Cowdenbeath anymore, and no coal is hewn there either. And the good times seem a long way away for the Blue Brazil as well, even though Irvine Welsh made a brave attempt to put both town and football club back on the map in his novella, Kingdom of Fife, in which a young Subbuteo expert buries his friend's skull behind one of the goals at Central Park. I find Irvine Welsh to be a bit like Jim Baxter, who was a native of local pit village Hill of Beath, home of the Haws. Mr Welsh is great when he's in the mood and on form, but awfie shite when he's not trying. Kingdom of Fife is a good laugh, though, unless you're a fan of Dunfermline or, as ever, Hearts.



Page Three Boys


I promise there's no plan to make topless photos a regular feature; it's just that this one is a bit special because the models are the players of Third Lanark, having their pieces and fizzy pop on the beach at Prestwick in 1962. The photo appeared in the Topical Times annual, and features manager George Young handing out the scran. 










The Hi Hi, whose ancestors had been among the founding members of both the SFA (1873) and the Scottish League (1890) had just finished the season in 11th place in Division One. They ceased to exist 5 years later. George Young resigned as manager when William Hiddlestone became its majority shareholder; he must have had a good idea of the fate that lay in store for the club. Third Lanark had been among the founding members of both the SFA and the Scottish League but, like Clyde and Partick Thistle, couldn't compete with the Auld Firm. The rascal Hiddlestone sold Cathkin Park for housing but planning permission was refused, which is why the old ground is still a place of pilgrimage for fans today. 



The Cup Final that never was

It's been a strange old season, for sure, with last year's Cup Final taking place in December and big matches taking place in empty stadiums, but at least we can expect that, come 2021 Final day, both teams will actually turn up, unlike what happened, or rather never happened, in 1884. 

23 March was the designated day, but while Queen's Park were up and ready for action, opponents Vale of Leven were not. Injuries and bereavements has left them with a weakened team, and in the week before the Final they sent a message to Cathkin Park asking Queen's Park to kindly postpone the game. No explanation was given for the request, and Queen's Park weren't prepared to acquiesce, so on the Saturday afternoon when the season's great climax was supposed to occur, Vale of Leven's players and officials were nowhere to be seen. Rather than play with a weakened side they took the unexpected and unfathomable decision not to put out a side at all, and declared in advance that they were not coming to the party.

This seems to have been a crazy position to take, by any standards. Vale of Leven, from the Dunbartonshire village of Alexandria, had won their first round tie 12-0 against Leverndale before knocking out local rivals Renton 4-1, Dundee Harp 6-0, Arthurlie 3-1 in a replay, Pollokshields 4-2 and, memorably, Rangers 3-0 in their semi-final. To put together a run like that and then refuse to play the Final must be one of the most extraordinary moves by any club in Scottish football's eccentric history. 

In retrospect it seems very cheeky that Vale of Leven then appealed to the SFA against the Cup being awarded to their opponents, but they came as close as can be to pulling it off. The committee's decision to award the trophy to Queen's Park was carried by 7 votes to 6. Astonishingly, and yet typically in the light of the SFA's unimpressive record, one of the 7 votes came from Queen's Park's own delegate who wasn't asked to recuse himself in spite of the most obvious vested interest imaginable. 

While Vale of Leven were understandably annoyed with Queen's Park over the vote, they saved most of their scorn for Partick Thistle, who had, so they said, reneged on a promise to vote for a replay because they were too in awe of Glasgow's domination of the Scottish game. They punished Partick by not turning up for a game against them, either. Had Vale of Leven owned the match ball no doubt they would have taken it home and refused to let anybody else play with it. The club might have received a more sympathetic response were it not for the fact that they, themselves, had been awarded the Cup in broadly similar circumstances only 5 years earlier. On that occsaion they drew 1-1 with Rangers in the Final, but the Rangers were so annoyed about having a goal disallowed that they refused to take part in the replay on the grounds that, morally, they had already won the competition. 

Picture courtesy of Queen's Park FC

SCF 1884.jpeg

West Lothian Tales

The Second Division of the Scottish League had disappeared when the First Division clubs resumed after WW1, but in 1921, a new Second Division was created, including the introduction of several new clubs from the old Central League, and for the first time there would be automatic promotion and relegation between the two divisions. Among the two new SFL sides were a couple of near neighbours from West Lothian, Armadale FC, in blue, and Bathgate FC, in maroon. With only 2 or 3 miles between their home grounds it was a given that the two clubs would share a healthy local rivalry.


In 1920 Armadale had enjoyed a great Cup run, beating both Clyde and Hibernian 1-0 at their Volunteer Park ground, before drawing 1-1 at home to Ayr United. The replay at Somerset Park resulted in a giant-killing win for Armadale, who then met Kilmarnock at home in the quarter finals and only lost 2-1 in a memorable scrap against the team that went on to win the Cup.

In their first year of League football. Armadale finished 3rd in the table and also won the Linlithgowshire Cup, while Bathgate came in 6th. There were a mere 4 points between the two clubs, although both finished a long way behind Alloa, the runaway champions who took the single promotion place. The following season 2 teams were allowed to go up, but our two finished in 5th and 6th position, both with 41 points along with Bo'ness, who were 7th. Teams that finished further down the table included Dunfermline Athletic, Stenhousemuir, Cowdenbeath, Forfar Athletic, and in rock bottom position, Arbroath. Armadale again played in the Linlithgowshire Cup Final but were beaten by a fellow Second Division side, Broxburn United.

The following season. Bathgate missed out on promotion by a single place, coming third behind St Johnstone and Cowdenbeath. If only there had been play-offs in 1924, eh? By now, a Third Division had been added to the League but was considered a graveyard and best avoided. So far, neither of our sides had flirted with relegation but final positions of 15th and 16th in 1924/5 didn't bode well. It was a good thing that the Third Division was scrapped before the new season because Bathgate finished next to bottom and would have gone down had there been anywhere down to go. 

Controversy arose after one match at Volunteer Park, when Dundee United's manager James Brownlie, a former Scotland internationalist goalkeeper. complained to the League that an Armadale supporter had called him a pig.

1926 was the year that things really began to go downhill. Bathgate was a wee coal mining town and Armadale no more than a village, and the General Strike, which began with a miners' stoppage, wrought havoc and misery. Attendances inevitably fell at both grounds - circumstances not helped by the Scottish League's refusal to allow its members to reduce admission prices for unemployed or striking workers  - and by 1928 the two clubs filled the bottom two places in the Scottish League final table. Before the following season was over Bathgate had scratched: their record in 1928/9 expunged and wiped from history. The same fate befell Armadale, along with Bo'ness, in 1932/3. Armadale had installed a greyhound racing track which brought in more revenue than the football, but the track didn't so much encroach onto the playing field as cover both ends and wings; the League ordered its removal and the loss of income from the dogs extinguished any hopes that the club would be able to pay its way.

For the sake of completeness, the 20 clubs that made up the Second Division in 1921/2, in the order in which they finished the season, were Alloa Athletic, Cowdenbeath, Armadale, Vale of Leven, Bathgate, Bo'ness, Broxburn United, Dunfermline Athletic, St Bernard's, East Fife, Stenhousemuir, Johnstone, St Johnstone, Forfar Athletic, East Stirlingshire, Arbroath, King's Park, Lochgelly United, Dundee Hibernian and Clackmannan, the latter pair subsequently being voted out of the League.

Why mention this sad tale now? Two new clubs, Armadale Thistle and Bathgate Thistle, replaced their defunct ancestors and have been happily carrying on at Junior level for many years. Bathgate Thistle won the Junior Cup in 2008, and now both have applied for membership of the East of Scotland League. They are on the way back! Both have some catching up to do in order to join Broxburn Athletic in the top tier of the EoSL and Bo'ness United in the Lowland League but everybody has to begin their climb somewhere. Armadale Thistle, I'm happy to say, are still using Volunteer Park, where their ancestors once finished third in Scotland's Second Division, and still wear blue. Bathgate Thistle are also in blue, at Creamery Park; maybe it's time to root out those maroon jerseys again because local rivals shouldn't be wearing the same colours. 

Bathgate Thistle FC: Creamery Park, Hardhill Road, Bathgate EH48 2BW. 

Armadale Thistle FC: Volunteer Park, North Street, Armadale, Bathgate EH48 3QD.

NB While we are talking about clubs in and around this part of West Lothian it's only fair to mention Blackburn United Community FC as well. Nicknamed the Burnie, United are, themselves, members of the East of Scotland League, run a number of teams for boys and girls and play at Ash Grove, just across the M8 from Bathgate.

Willie McFadyen's Special Year


The years between the two World Wars were notable for extreme poverty in both urban and rural Scotland, for poor social conditions, the General Strike and dominance of the Scottish Football League by Rangers, especially, and Celtic. Apart, that is, for one solitary season, 1931/2 when the scoring exploits of 27 year old locally-born centre forward William McFadyen helped Motherwell to their one and only League title. 

Willie scored 52 goals during the season, and was the spearhead of a terrific front five, as illustrated by the final table that shows them hitting a total of 119 in 38 games. Just as impressive, though, during an age in which big scores weren't unusual, was the team's defensive record; goalkeeper Allan McClory and his colleagues ensured that they were the only side in the entire League to concede, on average, fewer than one goal per match. 

The team's success didn't come from nowhere. Under the wily management of Sailor Hughes they had finished third the previous season and had been 2-0 ahead in the Cup Final against Celtic before conceding twice, the second an own goal, and then losing 4-2 in the replay. Undoubtedly, in the modern era predators would have swooped on Fir Park and carried off 2 or 3 of their star players, but when the entire first team signed up again in the summer of 1931 the club had justifiably high hopes. After the final game of the great Championship-winning season a banquet was held in the team's honour, and among the speakers was a Rangers director who complimented Motherwell on not having sold their best men. In fact, Willie McFadyen remained at Fir Park for another 4 years, bringing his total of goals for the club to 235, before switching to Huddersfield, where he played, again on the losing side, in the 1938 English Cup Final against Preston. He also played twice for the Scottish national side, scoring on both occasions. 

This was, by a distance, Motherwell's finest ever side. They finished second in the table in both 1933 and 1934 and reached two more Cup Finals, in 1933 and 1939, but lost them both. Willie McFadyen went on to manage Dundee United, long before they became a successful trophy-winning side, for 9 years, and was in charge in 1953/4 when his old club defeated his new one, in a Division B fixture, 12-1. 

Brief sporting glory did return to the town immediately following the end of the Second World War. Nancy Riach, who was just turned 5 years old when Motherwell FC won the Scottish League title, was a swimming prodigy in several disciplines. A former pupil at Dalzeil High School, Nancy was the ASA freestyle champion over three different distances and won gold at the 1946 World Student games. In 1947, aged 20, she took part in the European Championships in Monte Carlo, where she contracted polio (then more usually known as infantile paralysis) and tragically died in her sleep. When she should have been competing in the Final, Nancy was being laid to rest, before a crowd thousands strong, on a dreich and sombre day in Glenmavis Cemetery. 


Here she is. A wartime photograph of Nancy, aged 15, with Harry Lauder and Dutch champion turned aspiring actor Willy den Ouden. 




The Unspeakable Jimmy Gauld


There was a nasty shock for St Mirren and Celtic fans alike in 1964 when the Buddies' popular goalkeeper Dick Beattie, a former Celt, was arrested and accused of match-fixing. It was the end of the line for Dick, who played one match for Brechin while on remand before being sent to prison and banned from football for life, but fans of Portsmouth and Peterborough were probably not so surprised when they heard the news given Beattie's eccentric performances for both clubs. The match that caused his downfall was between Peterborough and QPR: a game that Peterborough were winning till, in the last few minutes, Dick twice cleared the ball straight to the feet of QPR forwards and then made no effort to save the goals that followed. In retrospect it's hard to be too tough on Dick, who never became rich either from playing football or from taking bribes; the man who deserves to take 99% of the flak is the man who arranged the corruption that besmirched English football in the early sixties, Aberdeen-born Jimmy Gauld. 

Gauld was a fine athlete in his younger days, could cover 100 yards in a fraction over 10 seconds and used his pace to help him score goals. He was rejected by the Dons but scored freely in the Highland League and then hit 30 in 20 games for Waterford in the League of Ireland before appearing in England's top division, firstly for for Charlton and then for Everton. When Third Division Plymouth Argyle put in a bid for him it was with little expectation of success but, not for the last time in his career, Gauld's club didn't seem very keen to keep him and allowed him to leave for the West Country. Indeed, Plymouth's historians say that the man their manager Jack Rowley really wanted was Everton's reserve centre-forward, George Kirby; it seems that they were surprised to be offered Gauld instead. 

His goalscoring record at Home Park persuaded Swindon Town to break their all time record fee by paying £6,500 for him in 1961, allowing Plymouth to replace him with Kirby, the man they wanted in the first place. It was while he was at Swindon that suspicions about Gauld's off-the-field activities first arose. Some surprising defeats had the team stuck in the bottom half of the table, culminating in a 6-1 thrashing by Port Vale that  manager Bert Head refused to accept was a freak accident or an example of players losing interest after falling out of the promotion race. At the end of the season Swindon released their record signing, in spite of his 14 goals, and sold their top scorer David Layne, who had hit 28 during the season, to Bradford City. Defender Jack Fountain was also given a free transfer and joined York City. When the sordid story finally broke in 1964 both Layne and Fountain were among the players banned for life.

Jimmy Gauld's only appearances in the Scottish League came in a very brief spell with St Johnstone before he joined Mansfield Town in the English 4th Division. A broken leg in his 4th game put him out of the team, but stories of Mansfield's players having previously paid Tranmere to chuck a match were enough for him to start up his old tricks again. Some surprising results involving Mansfield, Hartlepools, York and Lincoln, among others, were all consequences of corruption organised by Gauld, using his Mansfield team-mate Brian Phillips as a go-between. The shite first hit the fan when Bristol Rovers' goalkeeper Esmond Million presented Bradford with two goals and was accused outright by his manager afterwards of throwing the match. When he confessed, it arose that another player had also taken £50 to ensure that Rovers lost, changed his mind, tried to withdraw from the deal and played so well that he was given a score of 8 out of 10 in the next day's paper. As it turned out, Bradford played so badly that even a bent goalkeeper couldn't prevent the game ending in a draw, which meant that neither man earned his money but both were banned sine die regardless. 

That both players were cruelly exploited is clear. Es Million had money troubles caused by not being able to sell his home in Middlesbrough, while the other laddie, Keith Williams, also had financial problems to the extent that his wife had made a suicide attempt. Both were approached, and persuaded to agree to fix the match, by Phillips on Gauld's behalf. Since Williams had previously played for Tranmere it's possible he may have been compromised by having been one of the players that had previously been bribed to lose against Mansfield, in which case he would have been susceptible to blackmail. 

If he had been guilty of no more than fixing results Gauld's name wouldn't be so infamous; what firmly established him as a scoundrel was his decision to sell his story, for £7,000, to a Sunday newspaper and to secretly trick his former Swindon team mate and supposed friend, David Layne, into incriminating himself on tape, along with Peter Swan and Tony Kay, both English internationalists who had accepted £150 to ensure that their team, Sheffield Wednesday, lost a fixture at Ipswich in 1962. Swan, Kay and Layne were sent to gaol, along with Dick Beattie, Brian Phillips, Jack Fountain, Keith Williams, Es Million, Sammy Chapman of Mansfield, Hartlepools' Aberdonian left back, and contemporary of Gauld, Ken Thomson, and the grasshopper himself, who was given a well-merited 4 year sentence.


Layne and Swan returned to Hillsborough after applying, after 7 years, to have their lifetime bans lifted. Others, including Gauld, emigrated while Sammy Chapman became manager of Wolves. Dick Beattie served a 9 month stretch before getting a job in a Glasgow shipyard, and died in Old Kilpatrick in 1990 at the age of 53.


A Brother Remembered

There are all sorts of reasons why some players never receive the credit they deserve. The man scoring with a header in front of those 1960s ancient tenements, where the residents could watch goals like this one from the window and never need to pay at the gate, is Tommy White. 

That's a centre forward's goal if ever there was one, and it was one of exactly 100 that Tom scored in Scottish and English League football. So prolific was he at Hearts that he was dubbed "Goal a Game White" by the local press. In his second match for the club, after being transferred from St Mirren, where his 20 goals had saved the Buddies from being relegated in 1963, he scored twice in a memorable 3-0 win against Rangers. At Tynecastle he scored 30 goals in only 37 matches before being transferred to Aberdeen in a player exchange with Don Kerrigan, a former St Mirren team mate and a reliable goalscorer himself. How the Jambos must have missed Tommy on the final day of the 1964/5 season when that famous/infamous 0-2 defeat to Kilmarnock cost Hearts the League title.

Previously at Bonnyrigg Rose and Raith before joining the Buddies, it was while Tommy was at Hearts that his elder brother John, a star of Tottenham's 1963 Cup Winner's Cup winners and a regular at inside right for Scotland, was struck by lightning at Enfield Golf Course and killed. While John was the most well-regarded of the brothers (a third, Eddie, also played professionally) Tommy deserved to be celebrated in his own right. Who knows where his career might have taken him had he not been severely injured in a car crash? While he was away in recovery Donald Ford stepped in to partner Willie Wallace in the Hearts' forward line and Tom never fully recovered his place in the side or his pre-accident form.


After his brief spell at Pittodrie, Tommy moved to England and became the epitome of the roving centre-forward as he took his scoring boots to Crystal Palace, Blackpool and Bury before finishing with 4 games for Crewe and then moving into non-league football at Fleetwood. He was far from finished with the game, however, and joined Blackpool's board of directors where he stayed for 12 years before being ousted by the notorious Oyston dynasty.  

People who were far too young to ever see the graceful John White in action still speak his name in awe around Tottenham, and rightly so because he was a very fine player indeed, so frail to look at that at White Hart Lane they called him The Ghost. There was quite a contrast in styles between John and his bustling, old-fashioned younger brother. While Tommy's name means little to youngsters today he'll no doubt still be remembered with affection  by veteran fans of St Mirren, Hearts and Blackpool, and with respect from all the surviving centre halves whose job was to try to stop him from scoring goals. 

Caledonian Forest

Scottish players in the English Premier League are a rarity nowadays but that was far from the case when this Nottingham Forest side beat Luton Town 2-1 to win the English FA Cup in 1959. 

BACK Tommy Graham, Joe McDonald, Bill Whare. Chic Thomson, Bob McKinlay, Jack Burkitt, Jeff Whitefoot.

FRONT Roy Dwight, John Quigley, Tom Wilson, Billy Walker, Billy Gray, Stewart Imlach.

Five of Forest's match-winning XI were English, one Irish and other five all Scots, including, on the right of the front row, Stewart Imlach, subject of son Gary's biography, My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes. Stewart and left back Joe McDonald were the only two of the five to play for Scotland's national team, and if none of the others could make it in spite of being in this Cup-winning team then that's an indication of how many good players Scotland had to choose from at the time. They managed 6 internationals between them. Bob McKinlay never played for Scotland but he turned out for Forest 614 times. 

The five were: Joe McDonald (Blantyre), Chic Thomson (Perth), Bob McKinlay (Lochgelly), John Quigley (Glasgow) and Stewart Imlach (Lossiemouth). Luton's side included Allan Brown, who played 14 times for Scotland and consequently had more "caps" that all the Scots in the Forest team put together. I say "caps" because the SFA was notoriously stuffy and too mean to actually give a player a physical cap, to wear on the head, if they could avoid doing so. Stewart Imlach never got one and I don't suppose Joe McDonald did, either. 

In the same year, St Mirren beat Aberdeen 3-1 to win the Scottish Cup and all the players were Scots apart from Gerry Baker, born in the USA but raised in Motherwell, and the Dons' left winger Jack Hather, who came from County Durham. 

BACK: Jimmy McGarvie, John Wilson, Gerry Baker, Dave Walker, Jack Neilson, John McGuigan, Tommy Leishman, Bobby Bell

FRONT: Jim Rodger, Tommy Bryceland, Dave Lapsley, Tommy Gemmell, Alistair Miller.

The Anglo-Scottish Cup, and the

match that killed it. 

The Anglo-Scottish Cup was a short-lived consolation competition, invented in 1975, for teams that didn't qualify for Europe. It gave lesser top division sides a chance to test themselves against England's own less successful but still worthy outfits, like Middlesbrough and Bristol City. Unfortunately, there was no way of guaranteeing that a Scottish side would meet an English one in the final, so the first 2 finalists, over two legs, were Middlesbrough and Fulham. Motherwell had reached the semi but lost to Fulham by the odd goal, whilst Ayr, Hearts and Aberdeen had lost to English opponents in the previous round. Scottish sides didn't do particularly well in subsequent years, either. Not till Year 5, 1980, did a club from North of the border, St Mirren, bring the Cup home. 

In 1980, Glasgow Rangers were at a low point in their history. Finishing fifth of ten in the league table, they were left behind, looking on with envy, as Celtic, Aberdeen, St Mirren and Dundee United took the European places. Should the club lower itself to taking part in the ASC? Och, how no? What's the worst that could happen?

The other 7 Scottish teams taking part were Kilmarnock, East Stirlingshire, Hearts, Airdrie, Falkirk, Partick and Morton, with Killie, Airdrie, Rangers and Morton getting to the quarter final stage to meet, respectively, Blackpool, Bury, Chesterfield and Notts County; not exactly the cream of English football, but a reasonable test of the Scottish mettle none the less. Only Killie made it through; Airdrie lost twice to Bury, who went on to be relegated to the 4th Division later in the season, Morton lost but were not disgraced by a Notts County team on its way to promotion to Division One, while Rangers chucked away a first leg lead against Chesterfield at Ibrox by allowing a corner kick to sail directly into the net.

And so to Saltergate for the second leg on 28 October. All pubs in Chesterfield closed down for the day as thousands of Glaswegians and Bears from all over Scotland and the North of England headed for the Spireites' historic old ground. A new town centre could probably have been constructed out of the empty tins hurled out of car windows and emptied out of boots in the streets around the ground. The Rangers fans congregated on the open away terrace, where they were to be saturated by rain as well as shocked and angered by their team's humiliation on the field.

While this was a low point in Rangers' history, their opponents were at a peak in their post-war history and had put together a skilful side including Danny Wilson and Alan Birch as attacking midfielders and all-time record goalscorer Ernie Moss up front. Also included was Glasgow boy Phil Bonnyman, Chesterfield's big signing from Carlisle and a laddie that Rangers had allowed to leave on a free transfer as a youngster. He was a player who needed to be in the right mood to perform at his best, and the prospect of playing against the club that rejected him ensured that this was to be an evening where he was determined to apply himself. 

It's worth noting also that if Chesterfield were in Dunbartonshire rather than Derbyshire it would be the fifth largest town in Scotland, with a population much greater than, for example, Hamilton, Motherwell or Kilmarnock, and that, presumably, as a consequence, the local side would be one of our top clubs. 

Gers' manager John Greig sent his players out to sign autographs for the fans before the match, but the happy atmosphere didn't last long. Phil Walker, who had scored with that corner kick in the first leg, sent in another that was, again, missed by McCloy and his defenders. This time it hit the far post, and Bonnyman happily popped the rebound into the net. By the 17th minute it was 2-0 to the Spireites, with another Walker corner causing panic in the box. The ball, again, came Bonnyman's way and he bludgeoned it into the goal.

Chesterfield had paid Rangers the compliment of changing into their away strip so that the Gers fans could see their team wearing the traditional blue, and the ref was being exceptionally generous as well; when silver-haired Colin Jackson couldn't reach a high cross into the Rangers box with his head he punched the ball away with his fist. It was the most obvious penalty imaginable, but the ref, probably feeling sorry for the travelling 5000, looked the other way.

After Ernie Moss scored a third for Chesterfield in the second half, a mysterious penalty kick was awarded to Rangers, but was, inevitably, saved by the goalie. In truth, Rangers were slaughtered and the final score of 3-0 failed to reflect how badly outplayed they had been.

Chesterfield went on to beat Notts County in the final, and to keep the Cup for ever, because this result was a catastrophe too far for the reputation of the Scottish League, who decided it would be better to withdraw from the competition rather than to keep on losing to English opponents. It was bad enough when sides like Sheffield United, Burnley and Blackburn Rovers were inflicting those defeats, but when one of your two most famous and successful clubs is torn apart by an unfashionable side from the Third Division it's time to call it a day. 


R.I.P. Tarff Rovers

Here's a funny thing. The River Tarff, so most folk believe, is a tributary of the River Dee in Kirkcudbrightshire and has no connection with historic fitba club Tarff Rovers. The stream that flows by Rovers' old park in Wigtownshire, according to all the maps including the OS, is the Tarf Water, with only one F. But a notice on the bridge next to the old ground outwith Kirkcowan says RIVER TARFF so there we go. The folk that stay there should ken how to spell their own stretch of water after all. This means that the maps are wrong and that there are actually two River Tarffs in Dumfries & Galloway.

Tarff Rovers disappeared because of a lack of local interest in 2003 but Kirkcowan did see South of Scotland League football again in 2009/10 when Creetown FC spent a year there while Castle Cary Park was being upgraded. In 1969 Rovers beat Alloa Athletic in the Scottish Cup, but when they were drawn against Partick Thistle in 1954 the Glesga papers had to explain who they were and where they came from.

Partick won the game, 9-1.

Most of the blame for the Rovers' death has been laid at the door of a man called Robert Burns (!) who enticed players from far away, including Chic Charnley of Partick Thistle notoriety, leaving no place for local players. When Mr Burns decided he no longer wanted to flash the cheque book the local lads, according to popular rumour, told him to shove his team where the sun doesnae shine. According to Chic Charnley himself, he got £10,000 for signing up with the team in 1998 and was on £400 per match, but not for long because after a few weeks he was off to Portadown, leaving Mr Burns poorer, and probably wiser.


There's not much evidence that they were ever there,  now. The old ground, once known as Balgreen Park, is just like a common or garden farmer's field that happens to have goalposts in it and an old broken down bothy that, on closer inspection, turns out to be the dressing rooms and stand. The thought that this wee bit of land down a farm track once was home to a semi-professional fitba club is a difficult one to take in. It's only 17 years even now since Rovers vanished, after 129 years of providing fun and recreation for the folk of Kirkcowan.


The Saint

Ian St John, who died on 1 March aged 82, scored lots of goals for Motherwell and Liverpool in the 1960s, and also bagged 9 in 21 full international for Scotland. His £37,500 transfer from Fir Park to Anfield famously helped pay for Well's unique unfinished grandstand. Ian played in the 1961 match at Wembley when Scotland were massacred 9-3 but returned to the stadium and scored the winning goal in the 1965 English Cup Final, against Leeds United, with a diving header, for which one of his rewards was to be called "Ian Sinjun" by Bob Danvers-Walker on Pathe News. A cheerful character off the pitch, Ian was volatile when wearing football kit and was sent off several times. He missed the climax of Liverpool's promotion season after fighting with Preston centre half Tony Singleton, and in the modern era he would probably have received 2 red cards in one go for an incident at Fulham, where he hacked his opponent down from behind and then punched him in the mouth for looking upset about it. Later in his career he moved into midfield with Coventry before finishing up at Tranmere. 

This picture of the 1965 Cup-winning header appeared on the front cover of The Saint's autobiography, which came out in the 1960s and was called Boom At The Kop.



As well as Shanks being Liverpool's manager, 8 Scots, including The Saint himself, were among the 22 that played in the Final.  Liverpool also featured Tommy Lawrence, Ron Yeats and Willie Stevenson, while Willie Bell, Billy Bremner, Jim Storrie and Bobby Collins played for Leeds.  Don Revie must have had some great Scottish scouts because it wouldn't be long before he snapped up Peter Lorimer and Eddie & Frank Gray as well. He knew a bargain when he saw one in Scotland too; Gordon McQueen (£30,000 to St Mirren,) Joe Jordan (£15,000 to Morton) and David Stewart (£30,000 to Ayr United) are all names that would be likely to appear on a veteran Leeds fan's list of all time favourites. 

A New Year Tragedy

Every Scottish fan knows the tragic tale of John Thomson, the Celtic goalkeeper who died after being caught by the knee of the Rangers centre-forward in a derby at Ibrox in 1931. It's a sad story, but the poor lad's death wasn't the first in a match between two rival clubs. Back in 1892 another celebrated young player, James Dunlop, was cut down in his prime as the consequence of an on-field accident. 

After the Boxing Day fixtures in 1891 the League was put on a 4 week break, but several sides used the opportunity to play charity matches and friendlies. Paisley's two clubs, Abercorn and St Mirren, arranged a charity match for 1 January, after which St Mirren would take the train to Sheffield for a challenge game against the Wednesday. James Dunlop was the Saints' captain against the Abbies at Underwood Park.

Equally effective at inside or outside left, James, like John Thomson, was only 22. For all that, he seems to have been a natural captain. While still in his teens he had been appointed to a management post at the Telephone Exchange and such were his leadership qualities that his team mates nicknamed him Daddy. An amateur like his team mates, his loyalty to St Mirren was so great that he had turned down a chance to play in an national trial because it clashed with a Saints' match, costing him a possible cap against England. He was selected against Wales, however, so it was as a full internationalist that he led out his side on New Year's Day.

Astonishing as it seems today, the injury that led to Dunlop's death was a cut knee caused by falling onto a piece of broken glass. Crazy that glass should have been on the pitch, extraordinary by today's standards that there was insufficient treatment available to prevent the wound becoming infected. 11 days later he died of tetanus or, as it was then more commonly known, lockjaw. This sad story tells us that football was a very dangerous pastime indeed if such an apparently innocuous injury could lead to a player's death. While James left the pitch with his gashed knee bleeding none of the other players, spectators or officials had the slightest notion that such a tragedy was in the offing; they carried on with the game and the talk after the match was not of Dunlop's knee but all about Abercorn's unexpected 5-1 win. The Saints players left for Sheffield without him but also with no concerns at all about his long-term health. 

The picture and report below appeared in the Glasgow Evening News on 11/1/1892 and can be found, along with much more information, on the unofficial but brilliant St Mirren fans' site Cairter's Corner.