Blether: Rob witnessed Dundee quarry evolving into a football ground

The murals currently being displayed on the wall of Thomson Park on Liff Road, Dundee, continue to provoke comment and great interest.

Dundee graffiti artist Syke – real name Symon Mathieson – has spent the last few months documenting pieces of Lochee United Junior FC’s history, along with local landmarks and the city’s transport past.

Thomson Park

I hadn’t heard from Rob Boag in Canada on this subject, so I presumed news of this iconic event had not reached him.

I was correct as, after dispatching photos of the murals to him, he responded: “When I opened my email link and saw the line-up of photos you sent under the subject of ‘Thomson Park’, I had no idea what to expect.

“I opened the first one and was hurtled into the past.

“I instantly recognised Napper Thomson, big George Young (Rangers captain) and the dapper Mr Willie Thornton (Dundee FC manager).

“I lived minutes from the ground at that time and was at the ceremony when Napper invited two of Scotland’s football icons to officially open Thomson Park.”

At that time, Rob witnessed the ground taking shape, and went on: “Over the years, on a daily basis, I had witnessed the evolution of the cankerous Camperdown Quarry into a football ground.

“Looking back, one can only marvel at Napper Thomson’s vision and the work of countless volunteers that made possible this transformation.

“The Thomson wall that is now the Thomson canvass and pays homage to Lochee United and the town of its origin is stunning and poignant.”

Fascinated, he continued: “ The murals are spectacular and evocative.

“There is one of a tram car with the Lochee rail bridge in the background.

Lochee United’s Thomson Park murals

“That bridge was the figurative boundary that separated Lochee from the rest of the world.

“And the folks on that tram are on their way to the fine metropolis of Dundee.

“A tip of the cap to the Lochee United individuals who conceived this artistic concept, selected the historic scenes for display – and then made it happen.

“And a standing ovation to the artist, my admiration for his work is expressed from a line in the song Matchstick Men – ‘And even the Mona Lisa takes a bow’.”

One of Rob’s first instincts was to share, offering: “I sent the images of the Liff Road Thomson Park murals to one of my brothers.

“George lives in Newport and spends more time in St Andrews than Dundee, so I knew he wouldn’t be aware of the artwork. His response was filled with admiration for the concept and the murals. He then went on to inform me that the builder of the wall was the Stark family of bricklayers.

Willie Thornton

“He described how, going and coming from school, he used to watch Mr Stark at his craft.”

This surprised Rob, as he continued: “I was positive it was James Feeney who built the wall. In my defence, Feeney built lots of walls in Lochee. It used to bother me that some of my memories were mirages.

“Then a few years ago, just before he died, I read an article by Oliver Sacks the famous neurologist who studied malfunctions of the mind and brain.

“Sacks, later in life was shocked to learn that memories of his youth were not valid and reliable, and the mind conjures up false images to you.

“To find myself with the same memory irritations as Oliver Sacks provides comfort.”

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