“Once upon a time, there was a city that had an urban identity – a core identity, a sports identity.
This spoke wondrous tales of glories past and what might have been.
That city was Dundee – a Dundee of another time.
That was the opening lines of Rob Boag’s latest contribution to BwB.
He continued: “The Overgate, the Wellgate, the Murrygate and Westport were a landscape teeming with humanity every Saturday.
“Families dressed in their finest as they deserted the tenements and invaded shops and department stores.
“And inside inner-city pubs, what was there to talk about? Not the mills, or factories, or the boatyard. It was sport, it was boxing, it was football – and every pub on that landscape was steeped in stories of legends and heroes of renown.
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“And on such a Saturday at noon in 1956, I, an apprentice, along with four journeymen, left our job site at Dundee University and headed along Park Place toward Hawkhill.
“It was agreed we would stop and have one pint – no more, then be off on our separate ways.
“My elusive memory can’t decide which pub we entered, it was either Mickey Coyle’s or The Globe.
“Whatever establishment it was, business was ramping up to a steady Saturday afternoon crowd.”
Betting was illegal in those days, but there were ways around that, as Rob continued: “Standing at the bar sipping on a pint was a bookie’s runner making his rounds of the local pubs.
“From punters, he accepted money and slips of paper signed with a nom-de-plume and scribed with a meticulous studied selection of racing form – along with hopes and dreams of a Saturday night windfall.
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“As pints were poured, the discussion continued.
“The euphoria from Dundee’s very own Dick McTaggart’s recent magnificent and glorious Olympic achievement had mellowed and everyone had evolved from a fan to a McTaggart advisor – should Dick turn professional or stay amateur and become an ambassador for his sport?
“As a young lad I was undergoing my indoctrination into the protocol of behaviour in the company of elders in a licensed establishment.
“And I watched and listened to the debate of the journeymen as they detailed the pros and cons of stepping up from amateur to professional in the sweet science of boxing.
“The advice was well thought out and worthy of consideration. But it was Dick who made his own decision – a decision he doesn’t regret.”
The discussion then suddenly veered into who was the best football player to ever play in Dundee Junior leagues.
Rob went on: “The journeymen were veterans of WW2, when young men of their generation had lived and breathed football in that glorious sports decade of the 1930’s when Dundee was saturated with talent and the city was a giant encompassing sports stadium.
“They were men from another time.
“A name came forth – Tiddler Forbes.
“According to two of the journeymen, he was the greatest dribbler of a ball – bar none.
“They were emphatic that Tiddler could do things with a ball that no other mortal could.
“Some years ago, I am positive I read in BwB a reference to Tiddler Forbes.
“However, I can’t recall the content of the article.
“What stays with me is not just the name, what stays with me is the utmost conviction of the journeymen who declared Tiddler Forbes the greatest junior football player of their generation.”
I also can’t recall the reference, so, is there a BwB reader with any information on Tiddler Forbes?