Playing football in the winter months throws up all sorts of problems in all grades of football.
In times gone by – in the pre-undersoil heating era – tales of the lengths that some would go to get matches played are legendary.
And, on that theme, my old mentor Billy Grier phoned me to relay a brilliant tale.
“We all love our football, and the priority for me was always getting the game played on a Saturday afternoon,” he opened.
“Around 40 years ago, myself and brothers Geordie and Lewis were in charge of Lochee United.
“We were drawn away from home in the Scottish Junior Cup against Ardrossan Winton Rovers and played well to get a 1-1 draw.
“The following week, we were scheduled to play them in the replay at Thomson Park.
“We built up to the game with good training sessions on the Tuesday and Thursday, but, on the Friday night, the weather turned bad, with severe cold weather forming ice on the park overnight.”
The solution to this lay local, as Billy continued: “I have to confess that, from a nearby building site, late at night we ‘borrowed’ a few bags of sand, which we spread all over the park.
“The following morning, the referee, probably seeing all the effort we had put in, gave the go ahead to play the tie.”
The brothers were concerned about the footwear some of their Bluebells players might wear but they had a solution to that, too.
Billy explained: “Boots weren’t going to be any good, and the players were due to take to the field in an assortment of trainers, baseball boots and the like.
“Then I heard on Radio Tay that Dundee United’s home game was cancelled.
“I knew Jim McLean very well and immediately phoned him and asked if he could loan us a set of ‘dimple-soled’ boots.
“Jim said to pop down to Tannadice straight away and he would have them waiting for me.
“You should have seen our players’ faces when we brought them into the dressing-room.
“Each set of dimples had a United player’s name on it, such as Dave Narey, Eamonn Bannon, Paul Sturrock and the like.
“So some of our guys were playing in the boots of their favourite player.
“The upshot was we kept our balance like ballet dancers on that park and murdered the opposition 4-0 or 5-0.”
Billy concluded by revealing his relationship with Mr McLean: “We were great friends – very close – and I popped in often to Tannadice for a cup of tea and a chat. I always called him Boss.
“We often borrowed other gear and played friendlies against various Dundee United teams in places such as the old all-weather park in the middle of Whitfield.
“A great man and manager and, of course, I am devastated to hear of his current illness.”
Auchterhouse AFC won the North of Tay Cup five times in a row from 1974 to 1978.
Ged Traynor was part of the side in the first of these successes in 1974.
He said: “I played for Auchterhouse and am looking for a picture of them winning their first North of Tay Final in 1974. I would appreciate if you could find a team photo.”
I was able to garnish information from those close to the club at that time – Dennis Elder, goalkeeper Davie Tosney and Drew Herd of the coaching team.
Auchterhouse beat Balmullo Rangers 3-1 in that 1973-74 final at Broughty Athletic’s Claypotts Park.
They can’t recall a team photo being taken before the game but did produce one of the team celebrating in the Belmont Arms (below).
Back row (from left) – Davie Tosney, Dunc Tosh, Danny Ross, Jimmy Milne, Bobby Taylor, manager Tam Mulgrew, Bertie Thoms.
Middle – Alan Cooper, John Ross, Brian Selway, Drew Herd, John Crowther.
Front – Dode Fechlie, Andy Lawson, Ian Taylor, Doug Berrie, Gibbs Miller, Ged Traynor, Ronnie Dorward.
I queried why the celebrations were in the Belmont Arms as the game was played in the east of Dundee. The reply was Auchterhouse held meetings at the hostelry and felt obliged to give them their custom.
Our recent St Columba BC stories prompted their team manager to get in touch.
He is, of course, John Letford, who went on to attain status of Lord Provost in Dundee.
He opened: “I read your article about my old team and Allan Carver’s story about Graeme Payne and David Narey.
“Allan’s story was correct, but he left out something – or did not want to embarrass David.
“However, David, the most gentle giant that you will ever meet, ended up on the back of the manic linesman, who tried without success to get him off.
“They say that rodeo stars crave to make the eight minutes on the bull but David beat that by a mile!
“We won that European Cup, by the way!”
Just recently, there was a glut of requests from BwB readers for old photos and press cuttings.
Usually, this is a breeze as a delve into the vast DCT archives normally comes up with the goods.
However, even with the assistance of archives personnel, a search for two, in particular yielded nothing.
The following were requested.
Michael Stewart asked me to source a photo of a Dryburgh Athletic Boys Club team, who were very successful in the 1980s and 1990s.
Michael said: “I was born in 1979 and played with Dryburgh from U/9 level.
“Under manager John Mackintosh, we had a cracker of a side and were very successful, winning leagues and lots of cups.
“Players I remember playing alongside included Kenny Boyle, Barrie Craigie, Paul Donaldson, Gavin Dodds, George Grier, Neil Duff, John Young and David Rennie.”
The other plea came from Danny Smith, who is keen to locate a photo of the Dundee United SC B team he played in.
He revealed: “Myself and a few mates played in the Dundee Sunday Boys League and remember beating Arbroath in a cup final at Whitton Park (Broughty Athletic’s ground).
“This would be around 1999 or 2000 and we were in the U/16 age group at the time.
“There was a photo taken at the time and appeared in the local paper.
“However, none of us have a copy. We also can’t remember the exact name of the trophy.
“One of the guys thinks it may have been called the Matthew Cup.”
If any BwB readers can source photos or info on these teams, then get in touch.
It’s July 1981 and a Lochee Boys Club and North End Amateur Boxing Association exhibition boxing match was held outdoors at Lochee Park. The bout was between Fraser Fitzpatrick (Lochee Boys) and Perry Ayoub (North End).