BLETHER: Whistler Jimmy was refereeing amateur games at the age of 80

© SuppliedFrom left: I. Barr, Gregge, Chalmers, S. Barr, Auld, Braidwood, Henderson
From left: I. Barr, Gregge, Chalmers, S. Barr, Auld, Braidwood, Henderson

Kenneth Brannan said he enjoyed the “absolutely brilliant article about my cousin, John Gourlay, which was submitted by John’s pal from boyhood, Gerry Cavanagh (who is also known to my family as ‘JoeJoe’).”

He continued: “As a schoolboy, John, who is 30 months older than me, was a great footballing prospect, but, sadly, for whatever reason, he didn’t quite get that vital break.

“He ended up, very successfully, taking up a different type of career altogether.

“John’s late father, James Gourlay (Uncle Jimmy to me), was also a remarkable and, if I may say so, a wonderful person.

“My Uncle Jimmy was very well known in and around Dundee for many years as a political figure and an equally well-known football referee.

“Sadly, he passed away in 2005.

© DC Thomson
Osborne FC team photo.

“In fact, Uncle Jimmy may well have set a record as a referee because, believe it or not, he continued to referee amateur matches until after his 80th birthday.”

Kenneth remembers playing in a match officiated by his uncle.

He continued: “That occurred just once and that was over 40 years ago when my team Tay Centre played a Sunday league match at Fairmuir. Before the game had even started, the late Bob Higgins and I were named as our team’s two substitutes.

“Bob was not a happy bunny that day and he confronted our team captain, and said: ‘Why are me and Kenny 12th and 13th men?’ The captain replied: ‘Because we only have 13 available!’


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“We all (except Bob) had a good laugh about that and I got my chance and came on during the second half.

“Not long before the end of the game, my Uncle Jimmy, in his capacity as referee, made a decision in favour of my team.

“It was a decision to which one of our opponents took umbrage to and he started to swear at the referee, who, believe it or not, was 100% against any swearing by anyone at any time – not just on the pitch, but anywhere else.

“He said to the player: ‘I can’t stand anyone swearing, especially on a Sunday. You’re off’!”

Greenlee Drive resident Kenneth concluded: “I close this correspondence by asking if anybody has any information of an even older referee?”

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