A BwB article in April triggered memories for Rob Boag.
For his latest offering, he said: “His name lay dormant, cramped into a crevice of memory for more than half-a-century.
“And there he was in an April BwB article – Billy Houliston – and my mind began to release Billy like a genie from a bottle.
“Along with Billy, other names surfaced such as Billy Steel, Lawrie Reilly, Jimmy Mason, Willie Waddell and the brilliant Jimmy Cowan.
“These are names of legends and ghosts from the past.
“I was 11 years of age in April 1949 when my family were huddled around the wireless listening to England v Scotland at Wembley.
“After the kick-off, England’s attack on Scotland’s goal was relentless and, for the first 20 minutes, it was Scotland’s goalkeeper Jimmy Cowan v England.
“Time after time, just when the commentator was about to call a goal for England, Cowan’s fingertips deflected the ball over the bar or past the post.
“Cowan played a blinder.
“Then, slowly and surely, Scotland broke free from the English siege and, with the talents and brilliance of Steel, Mason and Waddell and the hustle of Houliston, the Scots began to control the game and dominate England.
“It finished a 3-1 victory for the Scots. Scotland was a proud and triumphant country that April Saturday in 1949.”
Canadian resident Rob continued: “It was almost a decade later that I gained insight into the backdrop of that victory at the famous London venue.
“Scottish centre-forward Houliston and England goalkeeper Frank Swift were two characters who had destined roles to play in this international.
“On any Saturday night during the late 1940s and 1950s, Frankie Davie’s pub on Liff Road, Lochee, Dundee, was the sports centre of the universe.
“And on one of those Saturdays, I moved my way to the bar through a packed house of former sportsmen with a smog of blue tobacco smoke hovering over their heads as they sipped on pints of heavy and relived past glories.
“I found the spot where my dad, uncles and their friends held court over sports topics and stories. A pint had been ordered for me, I nodded to everyone and picked up on the thread of conversation.
“Swift, Manchester City and England goalkeeper, was the topic.
“Hector Duncan was the storyteller, and he said, Swift had a ‘pair o’ hands the size o’ luggies’.
“And large hands they were, known in Manchester as the goalie with ‘Frying Pan Hands’.
“A big man and a showman, Swift dominated his area and intimidated opposing centre-forwards.
“So, who would the SFA select as centre against Frank Swift in the upcoming 1949 Wembley International?”
Find out next week….