1Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory"
Other Summer League teams were Links United, Greenhill, Prison Officers, and the Gordon's who represented the TA. The latter club was, I think Allan Proctor’s first team in the junior grade. Allan would later figure as Peterhead’s powerhouse Right- half in the middle Fifties. Other ‘Gordon’s’ players that come to mind are Abel Donaldson father of Jim ‘Skipper’ Donaldson who played in Peterhead’s 88-89-championship team, Abel’s close friend in that side was, Davie ‘Don Ameche’ Geddes, nick-named after the movie star, because of his ‘tache’
I believe there was then a team representing the large Ugie Park estate, and named Ugie Park Rangers they were 'run' by David Strachan brother of “Pops” (more about her later). The team, of which I have little memory, may have included George Forbes, George ‘Tony’ Emslie and his older brother Joe whose son, also Joe was an excellent goalkeeper for the dominant Buchanhaven Hearts team in the 60’s.
Surprisingly I have little recall of many Prison Officer players. Dodo Taylor, Georgie Stephen and from a later team Dougie Davidson and of course Boris, a giant of a man, and any players who played then will well remember ‘Boris’ I can’t remember his surname, but the way he played football ‘Karloff’ would have suited very well.
The ‘warders’ played all their games in Peterhead until about 1952. They then used the prison pitch for their home fixtures. It had a severe slope; the surface was of compacted cinders and not the normal grass, which we were all accustomed to. To the youngsters at Catto Park’s all-weather facility “eat your hearts out” you were all born too late for such a joyous experience.
Derelict rail coaches which had previously been used to transport the convicts to the Stirling Hill quarries, were now being used by the teams as changing rooms. I remember playing there, and bending down to lace my boots and noticed the ankle manacles still bolted to the floor under the seats. That, and lining up against Boris was an eerie experience for any youngster. Thoughts of ‘Humphrey Bogart’ and ‘Sing Sing’ ran through my young imaginative mind. In researching this story I have only recently discovered that ‘Boris’ was a nickname and that his name was in fact ‘Alex Campbell.’ His associates tell me he was a real gentleman off the park. ’Boris; died 7 years ago (1995)
I have recollection of Louie Ferrari playing for Peterhead ‘A’, but can’t remember his junior team. Louie’s younger brother Ronnie also played, but that was later in another generation of players and will be covered later. The Blue Moggan Italian connection continued with Cardo Bicocch who played for Peterhead in the 50’s Cardo’s career it was said, was interrupted by the amount of time spent working in his father Victor’s shop the Kit Kat café.
The youngest of the Ferrari family was Charlie; he was in the Peterhead Academy team that did so well to reach the Final of the Scottish Schools Cup on the 10th April 1965 at Hampden Park. The team under the control of Ian Buchanan put up a great fight before going down 2-0 to Coatbridge St Patricks High.
For the record, the boys on duty in that under-18’s Final were; Cooper, Milne, Mc’Gillivray, Hendry Bagshaw, Ferrari, Anderson, Mc’Neil, Wallace, Morrison, and Robertson. Four of the team, Cooper, Bagshaw, Mc’Neil, and Robertson stepped up to the Highland League. Charlie Ferrari is now a director of Cove Rangers.
The Academy centre half that day was George Bagshaw who later played for Deveronvale and Peterhead, George had his young life tragically cut short in a car crash coming home from a match. His farther George played for Peterhead in the Forties, he was a reliable solid centre half, who may have made more appearances had it not been for the form of ‘Dodie’ Buchan.
There was now in the late 40’s, a crop of players coming through to the junior grade that had probably never seen a game of football until after the war. One of those would have been Alec McGee a fast raiding penetrative forward; I was of the opinion he might have moved to a higher-grade. Alec lived at the bottom of the ‘Burnie Streetie’ he has since told me it was not until his first day at school when the teacher asked for his address, she corrected his Burnie Street reply and told him it was “Great Stuart Street.”
Eddie ‘Topps’ Thores, a hard working skilful halfback He was a quiet lad off the park and I think turned down the offer of signing for Peterhead.
There were some good young players who would not conform to organised team play, neither did some like the idea of changing’ to team colours. Two of those in that category, both of whom I knew very well, were Archie Gillies, and Charlie ’Chaddy’ Cameron. In any ‘chyzie up’ game (choosing sides by the toss of a coin), they were always outstanding, running with speed at defenders, displaying great close control aiding their ‘dribbling’ skills. They did however love the ball at their feet and doing it ‘their way‘. “Don’t tell me how to play” their protested reply to team tactics.
Those ‘bounce’ games are remembered as being of twenty each side. Before the game started, the players would sit on the Ugie Street Barclay Park dyke, a haze of smoke from Woodbine, Turf and if things were really bad Pasha, the smoke lingered in the air as we waited impatiently for Eric and Stanley Henderson to come with the only leather ball around. A last inhaled puff before the game commenced; some cheated and were betrayed by a slip stream of smoke from the left wing.
Not all were so keen for the game to start. Andy ‘Sugary’ McGee would be hovering around with a well thumbed and probably marked deck of playing cards. Trying his best to persuade the lads to join a game of ‘pontoons’ (blackjack). He was later a croupier in Charlie Buchan’s Regal Casino and well suited for the job. .
Other parts of the town had their own areas of play for there ‘chyzie ups’ The ‘links’ was popular with those who lived in the South and West End’s of Peterhead. Traffic was light in those days and it was common to see jackets substituted for goal post in the street, many arguments ensued as to whether the ball went over, or under the imaginary crossbar
I took part in Port Hendry Road games played with a ‘coo’s’ bladder for a ball. It was salvaged from the nearby slaughterhouse at Battery Park. There was little bounce in the bladder but we managed to kick it around for a time. David Beckham might have difficulty swerving free kicks with that ball and he might possibly not managed anything spectacular with the then normal ‘T ’panelled leather ball. The coo’s bladder did of course require a volunteer to have it inflated it by mouth. Oh the joys of those early poverty stricken post war years
Many Roanheads located young players started playing on the drying green to the left of the slaughterhouse. The area of grass was much greater than seen today. There were no houses past the first four blocks from the right of Ives Road. The railway track came from the station goods yard, hugged the rear of the bowling and putting greens under the bridge at Ugie Street and continued between the Ives Park houses and the rear of the industrial yards at Wilson Road. It continued to the rear of the four blocks mentioned, past the Battery Park houses to the rail terminal at the rear of the boat slip at Seagate. A narrow gravel path split the football playing area, and the rail line, but was included as part of the home made pitch. They tell me now of playing on a “all-weather Astroturf surface“…. What’s that? Some lunar landing place in a ‘Flash Gordon’ movie perhaps?
Prior to 1939 each area’s junior team represented different locations in a then much smaller town i.e. Longate / Orion, Roanheads / North End, Merchant St, Harbour area / South Bay Rangers and the ‘toonsers’ team was the West End, Buchanhaven was of course the Hearts. The “Wednesdays” club I always assumed to be the shop workers team, because of their half-day on a Wednesday. I have often wondered as to why there was not a team from the Queenie, surely they would have been the original ‘Arabs’ and not Dundee United.
Other players remembered at this time are brothers Davie, Jack and later Laurie Thom, Robbie Glendenning and Stanley Hood, although I’m not sure if they all played for the Ugie Park Rangers side, or maybe the JIC? (Junior Instruction Centre) David Thom told me a story involving Jimmy Spink. It seems that in the summer of 45 a team had been scrambled together by Andy Stephen to play a team at Cruden Bay. The game was played on a very uneven farm park, Jimmy was speeding down the right wing and the other forward players were haring towards the goal anticipating a cross. When Davie turned round to see if the ball was on its way Jimmy had disappeared---into a ditch running parallel to the touch line. He fell over body-swerving a cowpat. They’d never play for the Dons, but they could tell a good story.
Co-op milkman and later Cleveland machinist Jimmy Spink played and managed the Gordon’s team. Chris Rafferty, a strong left half in Jimmy’s team was a promising player at this time, He later left Peterhead, for Hull, where he worked for a branch of the Woodgers fishing company.. When he visited his hometown he never missed a chance to see Peterhead play. He is the uncle of former Peterhead and Deveronvale goalkeeper Billy Thom who had previously had a successful spell with Buchanhaven Hearts. In researching this story, I have only recently discovered that Chris died at his Hull home in 2000
Other pairs of brothers included Gordon and Tommy Stephen. They were sons of the well-known genial gentleman referee Cecil Stephen. Cecil had worked with my father before the war as a Plumber / Gas fitter. I recall seeing him being revived by Sandy Birnie and Hearts player Charlie Kelman after being gassed repairing a roadside leak at Queen Street near Recreation Park. Sadly Cecil died later suffering the same type of accident outside the North Eastern Hotel in Chapel Street. He was only 37 at the time of his untimely death 51 years ago. It is sad to think that Cecil survived six years in the army and then to succumb in such a manner. His widow Catherine is a hale and hearty 90-year-old and was delighted to give me permission to write of her much loved Cecil and is pleased that he should be remembered so many years after his passing.
Brothers, George Strachan and Goalkeeper Johnny both played for Peterhead. John gave up as a goalkeeper after sustaining a serious injury playing against Deveronvale in the Aberdeenshire Cup Final of season 51-52. After playing a trial for Peterhead his performance was reported in the ’Buchanie’ “Small for a goalkeeper, but with cat like agility, and an excellent style of gathering the ball “. Johnny continued for many years as a dominant centre half for Caley and the Euclid.
The Caley goalkeeper at this time, was the excellent Norman Cowie, Jock Anderson later followed him. Jock was originally from Inverness, and was the brother-in-law of Albert Strachan a clever scheming inside forward with the Academy FP’s and later Euclid.
Albert in turn was the brother of the irrepressible one and only Robbie Strachan. He was a great supporter of the Peterhead team and looking back, the ‘Billy Connolly’ of the team bus.
On a visit to Lossiemouth in 1968 we had left Peterhead without substitutes.
Ian Buchanan asked Robbie if he would be willing to go on in an emergency. Robbie jumped at the chance, and was named as a Sub. The fickle finger of fate then went to work. Dougal Summers was sent off, Roddy McNeil injured and had to come off. The team was 3-1 down, and Robbie trotted proudly on to play at outside right. When I saw him take up position on the wing, I said to Arthur Buchan ‘the way that left back is playing, Robbie could be in trouble’. Would you believe it? Robbie scored two goals, tap-ins set up by Ally Christie, and Pat Duncan and we managed a draw. Robbie was highly excited by the first goal, and then went absolutely berserk when the second went in.
Robbie and his young wife Rosanne lived in Threadneedle Street at the time. Every morning he would call at my workplace, Ferguson’s bakery in Merchant Street for his ‘butteries.’ When he visited on the Monday after the Lossie match he told me ‘straight faced ’ he was very disappointed with my attitude after Saturday’s game. “All the way home in the bus and you never once offered me terms “ Sadly, Robbie has now passed on. A great miss to all those who knew him.
Brian, Dougie, and Sandy ‘Blocks’ Strachan were nephews of referee Cecil Stephen, and members of the well - known ‘Karries’ football family. Dougie along with Peter Davidson would later revive the Buchanhaven Hearts in the 50’s, and they were still at the helm until the mid 90’s. It was then that an internal dispute that saw the Football and Social club committee’s fracture. Doug’s younger brother, Brian Strachan an effervescent clever ball player was until recently Chairman of Buchanhaven Hearts FC.
Associated singularly with the Hearts, Brian epitomises the dedication of Junior Football administrators. His allegiance and devotion to his much-loved ‘Hearties’ has never wavered. Committee man Alec ‘Cackles’ McLean is another in that category.
Probably the greatest gene spread to benefit Peterhead FC was from ’Big Mac’ and his Mc’Neil family offspring. Murdo, of the North School FP’S although never a Peterhead player was prominent in junior circles and his brother Chris to a lesser degree. Younger brother Roddy was the Peterhead Right back in the late 60’s. Roddy’s nephew George Watson actually played before him. George first played junior for the YMCA Youth Club and Hearts before signing for Deveronvale, George spent one season with the Banff club before coming home to the ‘Rec’. He is now one of six Directors at Peterhead Football Club plc
George’s brother Murdo who is now on the Hearts committee was Peterhead’s centre forward in the early seventies. Their cousin George McNeil was the clubs outside left for a few years, before moving south to work with the Inland Revenue. I was always very nice to George. In his first year away from home he won a Scottish Junior Cup winners medal with Cambuslang Rangers. He now lives in Southern England and has a son on the Norwich City staff. Ally Buchan was a new spar of the McNeil family, his mother Margaret’s maiden surname being Watson. During the eighties Ally was surely the jewel in manager Jim Hamilton’s crown. His football career cut short by a double leg break. The injury sustained against Keith, happened just a week before he was due to play trials for Jim McLean’s Dundee United. His injury was a major disaster for the club, and of course more especially for Ally..
I classed his forced retirement as one of my four greatest disappointments while supporting Peterhead. The others being Frank Middleton’s leg break against Motherwell, similarly the two leg breaks suffered by Gordon McIntyre at Nairn and Keith, and the much too early end of of Billy Weir playing for Peterhead.