Forfar Athletic v Montrose
Station Park, Forfar
Saturday 15th December 2018
Kick Off: 3.00pm
League 1 Table 2018/19
Hugh DavidsonTIME TUNNEL ……. In the tunnel today is Scooooooooooooobs!!!
Without a doubt one of the best liked players of recent years in a Montrose shirt was Hugh ‘Scooby’ Davidson. Scoooooooooooobs needs no introduction to Montrose fans young or not so young unless you only started to come down to Links Park last season. In the rest of this article I’m not going to use his real name because we fans simply know him as Scoobs.
Scoobs is from Dundee and if you ‘google’ his (proper) name on computer there is a Wikipedia entry for him which is a sign that you are more than just an ordinary person. Of course we at Links Park already knew that. He only retired a year or so ago so it’s not much of a Time Tunnel but nevertheless many of us are chaffing at the bit to hear how and what he’s doing now, so here goes as Time Tunnel caught up with him recently.
Briefly summarise your career in senior football.
"Started my career with a 6 year period at Dundee United which included loan spells at Raith Rovers and Stirling Albion. Following that I had spells at Forfar and Arbroath (Ed: which appears to be the only blot on his career) before finally signing for Montrose."
How did the name Scooby or Scoobs come about?
"It’s a poor reason but ….. been called Scoobs almost all my life. When we were really young my sister couldn’t say Hugh and ended up calling me something that sounded like Scooby. Maybe it’s as well nobody really heard exactly what she was saying!"
What are you doing these days?
"Between work and my 2 kids I don’t much time for anything else."
With your vast experience do you still have aspirations of getting back into senior football or has your career moved on now?
"Will be sticking to 5 – a – sides now I think."
Daft question maybe but what were the highlights of your days at Montrose?
"Loved my time at Montrose. Winning the fans favourite award a few years back was a good feeling and hearing the guys on the terraces shout Scoooooooobs was decent as well.
Another highlight was Ronnie Marquis once gave a cracking pre match team talk before a game against Arbroath. Say no more."
Any cringe moments you care to recall?
Also a funny memory was a wind up played on Daryl Nichol where he was presented with one of those massive fund raising type cheques that had been lying around in a cupboard for years at Links Park. The cheque was re-written and he was told he had won £1000 for goal of the round in the Scottish Cup. He totally fell for it and was even planning on taking it to his bank in the morning. (Ed: I would have fell for it as well if it was just after he scored ‘the’ goal against Edinburgh City a couple of years ago – what a solo length of the field that was – we could have done with him last week)."
Who apart from you do you think could have easily played at a higher level?
"For me the guys who stood out generally have indeed moved upwards. John Baird is one, Aaron Sinclair is another and more recently Martin Boyle. Guys like Chris McLeod and Jay Stein should have played at a higher level as for me they had great ability."
Time for you to have a go at somebody – who was the nightmare in the dressing room? Who was the dressing room joker?
"On my 30th birthday Heggy cut up all my clothes on a training night. He didn’t hang back and cut up everything including my work shirt, trousers, tie, shoe laces and the rest. I severely took the bait and walked out that night like a tramp in the huff."
Any regrets about your time at Montrose?
"That we didn’t get promoted the year we got to the play-offs. We were beaten by Stranraer but I feel we had a good enough side to go up."
Which was your favourite away ground and why?
"Hampden, decent after match grub!"
What are you most proud of in your football career?
"My Scotland Under 21’s caps and scoring in a Dundee derby match."
Do you keep in touch with anybody at the club or fans or other ex-players?
"To be honest I’m quite bad for not keeping in touch with people as I met loads of great people during my time at Montrose football club. I do still speak to Chris Hegarty (despite the clothes cutting up saga) and also David Hannah."
I also asked how he would like to see senior football re-organised in Scotland.
He ‘passed’ on that one – he’s now well retired!
Scooby will always be welcome back at LP even just as a spectator but if you read the online messageboards there are still calls for him to come out of retirement. He was at Links Park from 2006 to 2011 and his final appearance for us was at Hampden Park where he ended by sadly limping off injured. A great servant and player of Montrose FC. Hope to see you giving us a wave from the stand or the touchline soon Scoobs and thanks for giving your all in a Mo shirt. Oh, and we’ll try to stop missing a beat about the odd wayward back pass!
The Class of 1959/60The mid to late 1950’s were I suppose the years which made the greatest impression on me and probably what made me the Mo fan I am today. Sure there have been other golden eras between then and now, in fact the 1950’s maybe were not even a golden era but in terms relative to the club’s history, they were. I was a fan before this club re-entered the B Division of the SFL in 1955 but that year saw Montrose FC ‘hit’ the football map again. Their results were on Sports Report, in the national newspapers, and we were on the pools coupons! Yes, it was a big deal for the town but the team out on the park struggled for a few years to adjust until the great, late Norman Christie put together a side which ignored normal protocol and started beating teams we had previously been cannon fodder for. That season was 1959/60 and although we only finished in 7th place it was a vast improvement and for most of the season we were up there with a serious shout for promotion to the top flight. That would not have been very popular the big boys who very much did not want small town teams in the top division.
So here are a few notes to identify just who were the squad of 1959/60 who quite frankly shook and worried the Scottish League as well as the other clubs, none of whom fancied Montrose mixing it with the big guns. Firstly there was Phil Grieve in goal. He was a fixture for several seasons, not a great ‘keeper but a very reliable one especially with a good defence in front of him. Phil signed towards the end of the 1958/9 season from Junior club Thornton Hibs. Full backs were George Russell who was signed from Aberdeen Mugiemoss also towards the end of the 58/9 season, and Ian Steven who was in his third season at Links Park having signed from Forfar Celtic. There were three half backs in those days and usually in 59/60 they were Jim Kilgannon on the right, Max Smyth at centre and Ronnie Cross on the left. Jim was team captain and very much a leader by example with his commanding personality and statue to match. Max was another signed from Forfar Celtic and was in his fourth season at Links Park. Ronnie signed from another Junior side Aberdeen Sunnybank and was to become a Montrose legend for many years both on and off the field as he more or less did the Assistant Manager’s job late in his career. Ronnie is credited with bringing the great Brian Third to Links Park. Brian of course was rightly voted into our Hall of Fame in 2014 and quite honestly Ronnie should be there as well but present day fans/voters don’t really remember back to his halcyon days.
Up front there were five forwards (those were the days) and our regular line up was the legendary Ally Riddle who signed from Arbroath Lads Club then Jimmy Kemp who in my opinion was one of the greatest ever Montrose players and came to us from Forfar West End. Alongside Jimmy was bustling Billy Birse who was a great personality. Not great in height but barrel chested and quite frankly a nightmare for opposition defences. If we had records to show how many goals he scored for us he would be near or at the very top. I’ve just mentioned at least three players who would be in our Hall of Fame if they were remembered by more of our present day fans. Here is another who is in that Hall of Fame and rightly so, Frank Sandeman who signed from Dundee St Josephs and went on to play for Montrose for many years before playing at a higher level. Completing our usual line up was left winger Jimmy Campbell a very tricky typical Scottish winger of the sort our game sadly lacks these days. He signed from Lanarkshire club Royal Albert who if memory serves me correctly were based in Larkhall. Jimmy had the canny knack of chipping in with a steady stream of goals as did his opposite winger Ally Riddle.
Looking back at a few old programmes from that season I came across one issued for an away game at Queen of the South (very handy game for me). In the bit about Montrose the writer said the cup game away at Montrose recently was the first game he had missed for quite a while. Queens were having a great season and the writer was certain of a good result but devastated to find later that Queens had lost. His actual words were ‘the shock of learning that Montrose had triumphed was electric.’ That he added gave the present game added interest. Not sure why he was surprised at the cup result as Montrose themselves were having a terrific season and were third off top at the time. As I said earlier however Montrose had a reputation as a very poor side up until that 1959/60 season when we surprised many teams, not just Queens. Unfortunately they were ready for us and beat us 3-1 at Palmerston that day. I remember it well.
In singing the praises of many in that 59/60 team I honestly do not exaggerate – how much would those lads be worth these days?
© Steve Doyle (Sassmo)
Time Tunnel - Ivor & Betty Mortimer
In the Tunnel today are Ivor and Betty Mortimer who are very special guests in the Tunnel today as where Ivor goes so too does his wife Betty – you see they are grand-parents to Martin Boyle the ex Montrose player and Ginger Boot winner of only a few short years ago. Martin now plays for Dundee so Ivor and Betty now travel to watch Dundee (or Hibs now he’s on loan) play home and away but they both tell me it’s not the same and indeed they still travel to watch Montrose whenever their game does not clash with a Dundee/Hibs one. I bumped into Ivor again at Berwick in the away match earlier this season so persuaded him to come into our Time Tunnel to tell us a bit more.
Had you ever been to Links Park before Martin started to play for Montrose?
I’m maybe mistaken, but I think that the first time we went to Links Park was to watch the Scottish schoolboys (U18’s) play Northern Ireland in March 2010.
Where do you live now and have you always been there?
I’m originally from North Wales, but I have lived in Dunbar for the last 30+ years.
I think your son/Martin’s dad lives in Aberdeen – was Martin born up there?
Martin was born in Edinburgh and lived in Dunbar for a few years until the family moved to Aberdeen.
We know Betty is wheelchair bound but is it ever a problem finding a decent place to watch the game from?
Most of the lower division clubs have an adequately sheltered area to watch the game, the problems occur when the rain is driving into that “sheltered area” and there is no-where else to go e.g. Fraserburgh a couple of years ago.
Do you still get to as many Montrose games as you can?
Yes, if Dundee/Hibs are not playing on a Saturday we always look to see where Montrose are playing.
Coming back to Martin, how do you feel his career is going and do you think he is being wasted out wide on the wing?
Martin is now a regular first team player for Dundee/Hibs. He is doing well in his role as a winger, it lets him use his lightening pace and he’s been putting some great balls in for the strikers.
Is it a lot harder getting to Premier League games, parking etc?
The main difference with attending the Premier League games is that there is not the same personal relationship with the other fans, at Montrose we always felt that we were amongst friends.
Which away grounds do you enjoy going to best?
We liked going to Dingwall for the Ross County game and we used to enjoy the day out to Annan with Montrose. It’s a bit disappointing that more of the fans don’t travel to the away games.
How does Links Park rate as a lower league ground taking into account the facilities inside and around the ground?
We are very fond of Links Park and have always found all of the staff and fellow fans very friendly and helpful. The facilities are fine and the prices and service from the girls in the kiosk are great.
Looking back, which games do you remember best as a Montrose fan?
I think that I’ll always remember the Scottish Cup game at Gayfield in 2010 when Montrose beat Arbroath in extra time after the Smokies had come back after being 0-2 down. Martin of course scored the winning goal.
Which players do you remember stood out, apart from Martin?
“Macca” always stood out for me, I loved his commitment.
Who was the best Manager Montrose that you recall and why?
Ray Farningham has been our favourite manager. He always managed to find time to come over to shake our hands and say hello.
Which other teams’ result is the first you look for after a Montrose or Dundee/Hibs game?
How do you see this season going and why?
I think that this season will be a tough one, but I really hope that the Mo will finish well clear of the bottom of the table and relegation.
Anything else you would like to say or recall about your time watching Montrose FC?
We’ve both enjoyed our time following Montrose and meeting the other Mo fans, and we’re looking forward to the next Montrose game we will be able to attend which will be in early January.
Ivor and Betty are still well known amongst Montrose fans young and old and they will always be very welcome whenever they come to watch Montrose play. I wonder how they would feel if Montrose ever play Martin’s team in a competitive game. I suppose that provided Martin scores a hat-trick they would not mind if Montrose score 4 – come to think of it, neither would we!
Steve Doyle (Sassmo)
Time Tunnel - Brian Petrie
In the Time Tunnel today is Brian Petrie who is Secretary of Montrose Football Club and consequently a member of the Board of Directors. As a relatively new club Official Brian is probably not as well known as longer serving gentlemen like John Crawford, Malcolm Watters and Andrew Stephen so we thought it was about time we found out a bit more about him and what he does so here we go:-
Brian, tell us a bit about yourself e.g, are you a Montrosian or how long have you been here and if not where are you from originally?
I was born at Charleton Maternity Hospital, which used to sit on the outskirts of the town, and I have lived in the town all my days.
What do you do for a living?
I am a Communications Manager with GSK, a company I joined straight from school at the tender age of 15 as an engineering apprentice.
How long have you supported the Mo?
I have always had a soft spot for the club, but in my younger days I followed Montrose Roselea more as my Dad was manager there and once I had kids of my own I got heavily involved in Montrose Youth for many years.
Tell us about how you came to be involved with MFC and what your involvement has been since.
When our kids were growing up they routinely attended coaching at Links Park run by Craig Ferguson (what is now the LPCT) and so my wife, Brenda and I found ourselves regularly spending time at the ground with them. Through this we got to know the ground staff and players and our interest in the club as a whole grew from there. We were then approached by the club to create a small fundraising committee, which we did and this has been running successfully for a few years now. About 3 years ago I was approached by the board and asked if I would be interested in becoming a Director. Whilst a complete shock and totally unexpected, I felt honoured and privileged and was delighted to accept the offer. I was only on the board for one season when the retirement of Malcolm Watters as Secretary after 30 years left a vacancy to be filled and I was again shocked when the Chairman offered me the position. I have been on a very steep learning curve ever since but I must thank the other board members for their advice and guidance and in particular a huge thanks to Andrew Stephen for his ongoing and never ending support.
We assume as Club Secretary it’s vital you get things right but what are your main tasks at Links Park?
On a game to game basis we have to make contact with our opposition and allocated officials. On match days Andrew and I run the office dealing with the production of teamlines and the handling of complimentary and guest admissions. During the week I can spend up to an hour a night dealing with emails that arrive in their hordes from the SFA and SPFL. These full time organisations clearly don’t appreciate that clubs like ours operate on both a part time and voluntary basis.
What do you do in your leisure time away from football?
In my spare time, which between catching up on club matters and helping out with fundraising activities is not that much, I like to watch TV (mainly football), have a go at some DIY or try and keep my garden looking reasonable.
Do you manage to get to any away games – if so which are your favourites?
I manage most away games and without doubt my favourite is Annan, for two reasons. One, they are a terrific bunch, very friendly and really welcoming and two I used to work with their Chairman, big Henry McLelland who is a top bloke.
Which other teams result is the first you look for?
My three teams are Montrose, Aberdeen and Man Utd, as these were the teams my Dad supported. So my weekends consist of trying to reach 9 points from these 3 games – a feat that unfortunately is very rare. In the last couple of years I think it has only happened on a couple of occasions – not helped by the recent trials and tribulations that Utd have been going through.
Recall a magic moment or a game you will always remember, and why.
I will never forget being at Ibrox for our second league game against Rangers two seasons ago. Watching David’s long range screamer hit the back of the net I jumped out of my seat to celebrate but when I turned round I discovered we were the only row in the main stand on our feet and everyone else was looking at us in disgust – brilliant day!
Looking away from Links Park can you see Scottish football ever competing well again on a bigger stage?
I think for the game to succeed the authorities need to recognise and acknowledge the difficulties currently being faced by part time clubs and make allowances for these when introducing new policies. They need to make it easier for smaller clubs to run youth teams and organise them into regions to minimise travel and costs. Bringing through more kids at this level can only be good as we should be seeing players from our league regularly progress through the divisions.
There is no doubt that having local people on the Board is a good thing because local pride can matter a great deal. Having a ‘sugar daddy’ from somewhere else might help as well of course but much better if that ‘sugar daddy’ was already a Mo fan. Brian is clearly a local Mo fan so Brian, it’s up to people like you and me to keep buying those lottery tickets! Thanks for all the background work you do to ensure the smooth running of this football club.
Time Tunnel - Jimmy McIntosh
In the Tunnel today is Jimmy McIntosh ……. A Montrose player who made his mark at a higher level.
With the passing of time and the various changes in club officials and so on the football club lost contact with Jimmy for a long long time but eventually caught up with him in Ayrshire and he was rightly nominated for the Hall of Fame in March 2014. My records tell me that he first signed for Montrose on 25th April 1970 from Arbroath Vics so it would be the 1970/1 season when he would make his mark in Senior football. And make his mark he certainly did as a tricky outside right as it was called in those days.
The Tunnel caught up with Jimmy when he visited town for the Hall of Fame dinner on 29th March. I missed a lot of Jimmy’s career as I was working in London but I do recall the wee chap with boyish looks tearing down the touch line in typical Scottish wingman style of those days. We need as a nation to start producing that type of player again me thinks. So it was a privilege to catch up with him in person and put him in the The Tunnel today to get his recollections of those happy days he spent at Links Park.
Jimmy, I think I got the start right but briefly summarise your career in football .
After Arbroath Vics in the Juniors I had my first spell at Montrose which was followed by transfers to Nottingham Forest, Hull City, Dundee United and then back to Montrose again.
Where are you based now and what are you doing these days?
Involved in the Timex strike that left a bitter taste 93/94. My wife, Tija and I decided to leave Dundee and bought a Post Office in Girvan in Ayrshire. This unfortunately was one of the Government's Closure Scheme in 2008 and we closed. We are both basically retired now and enjoying our time together very much.
How did it all start for you at Links Park?
This my sound soppy but I genuinely had a great love for Montrose as a kid. We came on holiday every year and I used to dream of one day playing for them. When the chance came it was a NO BRAINER.
I know you were at Nottingham Forest. Who was their Manager and how did that move come about?
Fellow Scot Matt Gillies signed me followed by McKay, Alan Brown, then Assistant Manager Bill Anderson. Then of course the famous Brian Clough. Five managers in 6 seasons, not great for stability. I left for Hull in '76 and let my heart rule my head in '77 when I came back to Scotland and signed for Dundee United. Things didn't work out but the only good thing that came of it was that I ended up at Montrose again.
The transfer fee (to Tannadice) was 14K + 5K after 20 first team appearances
What were the highlights of your time at Forest?
I must say the surprise call up after a few weeks to make my debut against Everton, current champions at Goodison Park in front of 40K. Told I did well but was aware of my lack of stamina late on as I only had a few weeks full time training because I commuted to Nottingham at weekends for 5 weeks after signing.
Forget about modesty, tell us about your best game for Montrose.
Probably a game against Cowdenbeath at Links Park which we won 4-1 and went to the top of the League. I was brilliant that day!!
Which were your favourite grounds to play on in both Scotland and England?
Ed: Jimmy didn’t answer this question directly but I recall discussing the matter on the other side of a few drinks after the 135th anniversary doo. He was immensely proud to have played at several big grounds in both England and Scotland. The game which stood out most for him was his Nottingham Forest debut at Goodison Park against Everton. That apart he was at his most happy playing at Links Park in the twilight of his career.
Who was the best player in the squad, apart from you?
I never thought myself the best, but the late Gordon Crammond was some player.
I guess you don’t get to watch Montrose these days but is the club still ‘in your heart’?
Always has been and always will be.
Are you a regular at any other football ground now and which result is the next you look out for?
Not now and follow Nottingham Forest, closely followed by Montrose.
What are you most proud of in your total football career?
Probably going from Junior in April to making my debut in October that year after only weeks of full time training. Might sound modest but that was the springboard for me.
Retiring too early!
Anything else you would like to mention about your time at Montrose?
First time round definitely was the team spirit we had. It was like a family with no 'prima donas' and genuine warmth and
friendship from Willie Johnston. That's why were so successful during that period.
Jimmy McIntosh will because of the passing of time not be remembered by many of the present day fans but those who saw him wear the shirt will certainly wish we had another like him in the squad today. He was tricky, fast, scored goals, created goals and finally earned the club a healthy transfer fee. He is very much part of the better side of the history of Montrose Football Club and both he and his wife are welcome back to Links Park at any time. Jimmy, older generation fans like me will never forget the contribution you made. Many thanks and great to meet you again.
135th Birthday Today! - 13th October 2014We can’t go any further back into the Tunnel this week but we can, and should go back to the very beginning to record what research tells us about the origins of our football club. We all know that the club was founded in 1879 and those of you who donated for a copy of ‘The Journey so far’ will also know the exact date was 13th October 1879. That book was a limited edition to 100 copies however and sold out very quickly so we should repeat as much as we know about the full story here in the Time Tunnel for posterity and all those in the future who would not get a copy of the book.
The inaugural meeting leading to the formation of Montrose Football Club as we know it today took place in Montrose Town Hall on Monday 13th October 1879. Football in the town was not a big deal in those days unlike Rugby Union and Golf so the meeting to discuss soccer style football was not front page or even back page news. It was however reported several pages in purely as a routine local news item in the Montrose Review. Here is the exact wording of the report :-
‘On Monday a meeting of Montrose Football Club was held in the Town Hall and it was agreed unanimously to change the rules of the club to those of the General Association. The following office bearers were appointed for the ensuing season:- G J Lindsay, Captain, D P Davidson, Secretary and Treasurer, and also on the Committee were Robert Johnstone, John Skene, John Smith, A Wadie and Thomas Johnstone.
The Johnstone brothers Robert and Thomas are largely credited with the idea of creating a soccer style football club in Montrose. They were rugby players and played for the local club which existed and played many games and for several years previous. Those games were almost always reported fully in the local newspapers and one of those newspapers suggested some time after October 1879 that it was rugby players who started to play training games by simply kicking the ball rather than handling it and using the lower section of the rugby posts as football goal posts. Soccer style football was already being played elsewhere in Scotland and Queen’s Park we founded in 1867 – even Arbroath were founded in 1878 so maybe those rugby players were just larking around in training or maybe those soccer style kick abouts were intended to be more meaningful. We will in all probability never know.
That inaugural meeting in October 1879 however said ‘it was agreed unanimously to change the rules of the club to those of the General Association.’ That was the significant starting point. It looks clear that some form of football club existed in the town before 13th October 1879 and the Montrose Review first mentioned such a thing by including a short reference to a game between Montrose and Arbroath Rovers on 6th January 1877 which Montrose won 1-0. They then also reported on another game against the same opposition which took place on 1st December 1877 and ended early in darkness at 0-0. Several other games were played in 1878 against already established sides visiting the area such as Kelvinside and a Windsor Xl but by changing to and adopting the General Association rules, meaning those of the Scottish Football Association Montrose could now get involved in playing other clubs from the local area and further afield and in a more organised manner. They would also have to play with a round ball, football style goal posts (without a net or crossbar in those days) and with eleven a side instead of fifteen. For ‘official’ games within Association Rules there would be a neutral ‘umpire’ assisted by goal line officials who would adjudicate in the event of a dispute regarding whether the ball had passed between the posts and also if it was too high. One assumes the latter became such a point of disagreement that eventually tape was used and strung across the top of the posts until more sensibly crossbars were introduced in 1875.
Anyway, back to football in Montrose which took off in great fashion after 1879 with huge crowds flocking to the Links for every game and even just to training sessions where the local lads reached stardom proportions. We all know I’m sure that the first official game was played against Arbroath Wanderers on 8th November 1879 although games after that against other teams were either not so regular or were not reported until the popularity of the game and the size of the crowds dictated that the local Press turned up to report what exactly was going on. By the mid 1880’s however full fixture lists of friendly games were constructed and Montrose were by then playing in the order of 50 games a season with a great deal of success and to quite huge vociferous crowds. By 1891 they had entered a formal league structure, the Northern League and those early seasons are currently being recorded in more detail in another feature article in each MFC programme.
Time Tunnel - John Paton
In the Time Tunnel today is John Paton who is Honorary President of Montrose Football Club. John has been involved in this club for a long time but we thought it would be useful to put him in The Tunnel so he could tell us a bit more about himself and his role at our football club.
John, tell us a bit about yourself e.g. are you a Montrosian or how long have you been here and if not where are you from originally?
I am a Montrosian born bred and educated.
What do you do for a living or what did you do if now retired?
I worked for RBS in various areas of the country culminating in the post of Assistant General Manager UK Banking. Now retired I have several Company Directorships.
Can you remember when you first started coming down to Links Park?
Went to Links Park as a schoolboy. The first memorable match was the cup win over QoS in the
Cook, Calder, Costello, Wotherspoon, Jolly, Cabrelli era.
Tell us about how you came to be involved with MFC and what your involvement has been over the years.
I was first asked to take charge of the turnstiles in 1959 but soon afterwards became Club Secretary a post which I held until 1967 when I was transferred to Edinburgh. I maintained my connection through the reign of Willie Johnston and re joined the Board from time to time. I had to relinquish my connection with Montrose when I undertook the role of Managing Director of St Mirren FC in 1992. I was at Love Street until 1997 when after completing a new Share Issue I considered my work there done. I returned to my first football love in 1997 and became Chairman until the arrival of the Blacks in 2007.
What is your main role at Links Park nowadays?
I was pleased to accept the honour of Hon President in 2007 and have continued as a Director. I am now the “old fart” on the Board offering counsel on a variety of issues but I have to say that the present Board which consists of enthusiastic and hard working Directors led by Derek is one of the best in which I have been involved. I also supervise the running of the weekly lottery.
Tell us about some of your favourite memories of coming down to Links Park.
Each decade holds great memories for me. Cup ties against the bigger Clubs which we won and the matches in which we won promotion.
What do you do in your leisure time away from football?
I am a past President of the Rotary Club and currently President of the Hope Paton Bowling Club and a member of several organisations in the town. I also consider my involvement with several companies as semi leisure.
I see you at most games home and away. Which away grounds/clubs do you enjoy going to best?
I think that our visits to Hampden Park to play Queens Park is my favourite venue but I have to say that most Clubs we visit are very hospitable.
Which other teams result is the first you look for?
Probably Rangers and St Mirren and the other Angus Clubs.
Which Mo players from the past do you most recall and why?
Really too many to mention. The entire team of the early sixties and Alex Stuart's team of the seventies spring to mind together with Bryan Keith's promotion winning team in the nineties
I would also mention the various Managers who put successful teams together e.g. Norman Christie, Alex Stuart and Ian Stewart. There were of course others and I mean no disrespect to them.
Recall a magic moment or a game you will always remember, and why.
Without being nostalgic I think that David Gray's goal against Rangers at Ibrox giving us a draw with only a few minutes to go was magic for me.
Tell us about some of the great away games you’ve been to.
In view of my long standing relationship with the Club I have witnessed many great games. Probably the recent two games at Ibrox mainly in view of the close results and the size of the crowd at 47000 or so. The other game in which I took great pride was the defeat of Hearts in the League Cup bearing in mind that Hearts had not suffered a home defeat for over a year.
Do you think the pyramid system is good for Scottish football or do you think the SPFL should admit a few more progressive clubs and have bigger divisions?
I think that the concept of the pyramid is desirable but apart from a very few most Clubs in the Highland and Lowland leagues and especially those in the junior ranks do not have grounds which are up to standard and don't have the resources to remedy this failing. Furthermore the cost of travel would be exceptionally expensive....indeed one or two Highland League Clubs have indicated that they would decline the opportunity. The problem we have in Scotland is that we do not have the population to support football's financial requirements.
Looking away from Links Park can you see Scottish football ever competing well again on a bigger stage?
As matters stand the TV payments by way of sponsorship etc is only a fraction of what is paid in England even to Clubs in Leagues 1 and 2 and this makes it difficult for Scottish Clubs to hold on to players. Again population is a factor with only Rangers and Celtic able to attract regular crowds of 40000/50000. For instance Inverness CT sit at the top of the League and can only attract crowds of less than 5000. What does the future hold? Well as long as the massive amounts continue to be paid to English Clubs which enables them to attract foreign players the former steady drift of Scots players to England has reduced. How many in the Scotland squad play in the English Premiership
When you have read this I’m sure, like me, you will know a lot more about our Hon. President John Paton. Clearly his love of this club comes through in his words. Some of those words take us back to 1959 and the early 1960’s which is a long time ago but nevertheless a pivotal part of our history just as the more successful mid 1970’s were. History is always worth remembering as we ponder just what the future might hold in store for us. Thanks John.
Time Tunnel - Hamish Brannan
In the Tunnel today I’m delighted to say we have Hamish Brannen, or simply HAMISH as we all know him. I doubt if there is a Mo fan anywhere who does not know Hamish or who has not come across him at least at an away game. He stands behind the goals, along the side or in the front row of the Stand wherever he can find somebody to talk to about the Mo. At an away game at Berwick once we didn’t have many fans there but I knew Hamish was on the other side as I could hear his non-stop singing – all on his own but surrounded by Berwick fans. I caught up with him recently at Links Park when he was sitting in the Stand chatting to Ian Stott though I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about! Anyway here’s a few words from the indefatigable Hamish :-
Have you always lived in Montrose?
Yes, all my life – I’m 53 now
How long have you been coming to Links Park?
I started coming when I was at school. Lots of other lads came to the football then but not many now. I still come because I just love it and the Mo are a major part of my life.
Daft question but where do you stand or sit usually?
I like to stand between the pie hut and the edge of the penalty area but I get itchy feet during the game so end up behind either goal mouth or even sometimes on the front row of the main stand beside Ian Stott.
Do you go to many away games still?
I haven’t always gone to away games but I do when I can afford it or if there is a bus on.
How can we get more folk to come to Links Park?
We need to have a winning team or at least a team playing good football regularly. Maybe some pre-match entertainment. (Ed: I think he said something about dancing girls!). Cost of getting in might be an issue as well – Ok at the moment but still maybe too much for all but those who are concessions.
Looking back, which period in time do you remember best as a Montrose fan?
The Hibs game when Les Barr scored that amazing winning goal in front of a full stadium. Also coming back to beat Raith Rovers in the second leg when most people had written us off. Then there was the Hampden Semi-final as well. Great days.
Which players do you remember stood out, name as many as you like?
Les Barr, Bob Livingstone, Charlie Guthrie, Dennis D’Arcy, Gordon Crammond, Brian Third, John Sheran, Alex Stuart, Martin Boyle – Hamish just kept on going, I couldn’t keep up with him!
Who was the most outstanding Manager Montrose ever had?
Alex Stuart – he gave us a great team and a golden era in Montrose.
Pick a highlight, one which immediately springs to mind, a particular game, a very special goal or moment you’ll never forget. Pick more than one if you like?
There was a 3-3 draw at Elgin recently which was a great game and the 8-1 against Clyde but one which really sticks in the mind was the 12-0 win over Vale of Leithen.
Is there a particular game or moment you’ll never forget but for all the wrong reasons?
Yes, two in fact. The 0-6 at home to Peterhead and the 0-5 away at Berwick, both recently. I don’t like either of them.
Which other teams’ result is the first you look for after a Montrose game?
Celtic and Carlisle. Maybe Dundee United as well.
Do you think we should stick to 10 team divisions playing each other 4 times or would you prefer to go back to bigger divisions playing twice only?
I quite like 10 team divisions as there’s always something to play for.
Who was Montrose FC’s best ever player in your time?
Anything else you would like to say or recall about your time watching Montrose FC?
It would be good to go home from Links Park feeling really good more often but whatever happens I just love it. I look forward to every game.
What he says in his last sentence is totally what he means. He lives for his football and is the type of fan we need more of. He sings his heart out on the terraces and at away games the players can’t fail to hear him. He also provides lots of entertainment for opposition fans except those of a certain team who play in Cumbernauld. Keep it going Hamish, you are a terrific fan of this football club.
Steve Doyle (Sassmo)
Time Tunnel - The Class of 1975/76
The previous season we finished joint second in the old Second Division and thus were to take part in the new First Division, which was the new second tier, for the 1975/6 season. There were some big ‘names’ in there so it was going to be a big ‘ask’ for the Mo and I bet not many outside of Links Park would have put money on how the season would pan out for the Mo. Let’s look at the squad first of all because it was they who carried the flag onto the pitch every week. Alex Stuart was Manager and a very ambitious young manager at the time in his first post as the Gaffer. Under his guidance Montrose were unquestionably the shock team of the season not just on the pitch but throughout the media world as well by consistently dragging the best reporters out of their comfort zone to cover the remarkable exploits of this wee club of ours which was, to use the words of one of them ‘away out in the sticks with only smoke signals to use as a means of communication.’ More than once I recall problems, disagreements or whatever with space being in demand from the media in our tiny old grandstand which used to be where the North Terrace is now. To boot there was only one telephone as well – poor things! Hence all the bonfires round the back as their smoke signals were sent in the direction of Glasgow and other centres of civilisation beyond the Montrose Basin.
Yes, for once our wee town was a hive of soccer activity. Alex’s team produced a brand of soccer skill formerly unknown to come out of the old Second Division. So who were these lads who blended into such a formidable team?
In goal was Dave Gorman. He was extremely agile and only his relatively small stature for a ‘keeper was probably the only reason why he did not feature at a higher level at the time. In the back line The Legend Les Barr (pictured right) featured at right back whilst the defence also featured man mountain Denis D’Arcy, a Banks O Dee product and also still a legend in these parts. Tall and bearded he was just the man you needed to put in front of the opposition on a cold winter’s day. He was usually partnered by Billy McNichol and Stewart Markland and to this day I’ll never know how he got in the way of a goal bound shot at the Hampdem semi-final that season. The central midfield were Harry Johnston a PE teacher from Glasgow, Bertie Miller signed from East Fife and Ian Stewart (himself to become a legend) who was an ex Clyde and Forfar player. Up front were Kenny Cameron, Charlie Guthrie, Bobby Livingstone and Jimmy Cant. Kenny was later to become a Montrose Manager as was Bobby Livingstone. Kenny was previously a goal scoring machine at Kilmarnock and Dundee United whilst Charlie was a dangerous and tricky little wing player whilst Bobby was a tall long striding cultured type of player. He was by no means fast but had that canny knack of reading the game and being in the right place. Indeed I can think of no better player at latching on to that all important ‘second ball.’ He played just in behind the main strikers but chipped in with many important goals and his use of space made him a most important outlet for the ball when the defence were stretched and needed to hoof the ball in Bobby’s direction. He would hold up play and use the ball intelligently to set up our own play. Jimmy Cant was more of a midfield player and one of many better signings from Arbroath over the years. He was vastly experienced and his role in that class of 75/6 was in my opinion very much under estimated as he was overshadowed by other prominent ‘stars’ of that era. It was a squad game of course and other lads who were very much part of the team were Malcolm Lowe who went on to be a fixture alongside D’Arcy in defence. Charlie Downie and Derek Daun also featured regularly whilst Walker, Smart, Guyan and Paris made up the remainder of that formidable ‘Class of 75/6.’
So let’s have a brief reminder of just what that squad achieved. Firstly we must look at the league which is the tell tale barometer of success over a full season. We finished in third place which was truly remarkable for a club and town of our size. Just one place outside what is now known as the SPL. In the cup competitions I doubt if we will ever repeat that 1975/6 season. We reached the Hampden semi-final of the League Cup and led League and Cup double Rangers 1-0 well into the second half and we hit the post before Rangers broke away from the rebound to equalise and then go on to win it. Along the way there was the quarter final win over Hibernian in that never to be forgotten game which included the legendary long range winner from Les Barr. We excelled in the Scottish Cup as well that season and eventually lost in a second replay to Hearts in the quarter final after agonising Hearts last gasp equalisers in both the first game at LP and the first replay at Tynecastle.
A truly remarkable season from a truly remarkable squad of players led by an equally remarkable Manager in Alex Stuart. The ‘Class of 1975/6’ are all true Montrose legends.
Steve Doyle (Sassmo)
Time Tunnel - Arthur FinnArthur Finn was one of my favourite players in his playing days for Montrose FC and remains to this day as one of my all time favourites. Maybe he did not become a long term legend of the status of Bob Livingstone, Les Barr and several others and indeed in his early days he was in and out of the first eleven. However during the later years at the club he was very much a legend at the time with his fast no nonsense running and all out effort to the cause. I well remember him scoring a hat-trick against Brechin City which was followed by the headline in one of the national papers ‘ King Arthur of Montrose – glory hat trick for the new boy.’
He is a Dundonian and arrived at Links Park in December 1968 via three Junior Dundee sides Lochee United, Broughty Athletic and Lochee Harp but also had a brief trial with Raith Rovers. As a plumber he was able to continue that trade whilst being a part time professional footballer. His favourite other pastime/hobby was eating and some said he married Margaret for her culinary abilities but for those who actually met her they would certainly say she had other attractions as well! Anyway Arthur’s eating ability added to his fit but stocky 5ft 8 inch appearance allied to an ability to go straight through opponents if there was no way around them. Yes, he was a winger and these days wingers of his ability are few and far between in the more modern game.
There were lots of good times at Montrose and we will come to those in a minute but firstly I think we need to look at why maybe his career as a footballer did not hit greater heights. The reason I feel is because he twice had leg breaks and missed huge chunks of successive seasons and that also accounts for my earlier statement that he was in and out of the first eleven.
Now let’s have a look at some of the high points in his time at Links Park. Firstly there was that hat trick against Brechin in his Links Park debut game. His goals came in the 14th, 40th and 79th minutes. His first came after a Bob Livingstone shot cannoned back off Brechin ‘keeper Ritchie and Finn was on hand to blast the ball home at the beach end. Just before half time he got his second when side footing a Smith cross from the back edge of the six yard box. After Brechin had scored two early second half goals to equalise it was that man Arthur Finn who wrapped up the points in the 79th minute with a freak goal direct from a corner. His kick swirling in from the left and straight into the bottom right hand corner of the dynamo end net.
One of Arthur’s long remembered games was the cup game at home to Hearts on 24th January 1970. It ended 1-1 with defeat 0-1 in the replay at Tynecastle a few days later. In Arthur’s days with Montrose very few programmes were issued but for an away game at East Stirling in 1970 he was pen-picced as ‘a left winger, currently out of the first team (with a broken leg) was attracting the attention of the big money clubs last season but Montrose were not persuaded to sell. It’s a fair bet that the fast winger who has scored so many fine goals for the club will be back challenging for a place in the first team before long.’ In the Shire programme the following season they again had kind words to say about Arthur ‘ Left winger Arthur Finn has now fully recovered from a leg break and is challenging for a first team place. Not so long ago Arthur was the Second Division’s top scoring winger so he’s a handy player to have in reserve. Injury kept him out of the picture most of last season but in the four games he played he still managed two goals so that sums up how good a player he is.’
If I close my eyes for a moment my memories of Arthur Finn are not from goals he scored but from goals he nearly scored. He was a superb striker of the ball and I well recall a League Cup game away at Motherwell in 1969 when Arthur hit the ball so hard that the ‘keeper could not hold it and Welsh tapped in the rebound for the equaliser. Another similar hard hit effort almost snatched an equaliser at Tynecastle in the 0-1 cup replay mentioned above. The shot was so hard the ‘keeper didn’t so much save it but was just in the way as the ball hit him and rebounded to safety.
Arthur is still around of course and I hope I’ve now managed to trace him and get him to appear in his own words in this Time Tunnel column one day soon.
Steve Doyle (Sassmo)