Chelsea Boys Club was a Boys football team founded by the late Mr. Brian Moran in September 1982. With some assistance of Mr. Michael Martin and Mr. Lambert Beadie, the club got off to a tremendous start, was well attended and promised some good careers in football from some of the boys who showed talent. This kind of talk from Brian, motivated the boys to do well. Pictured are the boys from Chelsea Boys Club, photographed in April 1983, behind the Columba Club.
Brian is known to have spotted a group of boys being tempted by older boys to “sniff glue” in 1982 and on that very same piece of land, decided to form the group and do something about the solvent abuse, by keeping children away from this danger, engaged in sports instead. Moran, who was a 33-year old bearded Prison officer at Barlinne, soon chased away the would-be glue sniffers and the area became known for playing football on. It should be noted, many of the boys who played with Chelsea Boys Club were never tempted by glue. That angle and story by reporters annoyed many mothers and fathers at the time.
The team played on a grass area we now know as the Priory Playing Fields. One evening, not long after the group formed on the playing pitch, a group of local boys from Coatshill came down and squared up to the young Chelsea Boys, trying to pick a fight. Brian managed to persuade the bullies to come back the next evening, with the tracksuits and “fight it out” on the playing field by playing football instead, or were they too scared? The bullies came back and were defeated in a game which thankfully difused tensions.
The boys were taken on guided tours of Hamilton Accies, Blantyre Vics and Blantyre Celtic grounds and set their sights on tours of Wembley and Chelsea too.
The boys themselves set about fundraising, collecting money for a marathon runner and collected £130 for them to buy an entire new set of strips, their first strip being the Chelsea Yellow.
A neighbour of Mr Beadie, Mr Peter Leggate was treasurer, his twin sons Peter and Tommy part of the team. Brian picked the name Chelsea after he had once had a trial there himself, and thought if his new club was a success, it would be a good venue to take the boys on a trip. The name even caused some confusion in newspapers, when the boys match reports, sometimes being mistaken for their more famous namesakes!
The boys played against other local clubs, like David Livingstone Primary School or St Blanes although it would be fair to say, their largest rivals were Blantyre Cosmos. In early 1983, a grant enabled them to buy snooker tables and badminton equipment, which they kept at the Community Centre on Glasgow Road, afterwards to be a place for their meetings.
They formed a café at the Community Centre and progressed their football activities. There eventually were 5 teams managed by Alex and Robert Dick, as well as Mr.John Wildman. Robert Malarkey was a coach, recognised by his moustache by many.
Recalling his time at the club, Mr. Peter Leggate (jnr), commented, “At a trip to Wembley, London, we played a Swedish side. The boys were a good few years older, and a few feet taller, perhaps the reason why they won! Unfortunately, several of the boys from our 25 strong representation came down with food poisoning on that trip. We watched Chelsea play middlesbourgh in London, think Chelsea won. We got introduced to the fans at halftime with all of us on the pitch.”
The club folded in 1987, following disagreement and allegations towards one of the organisers.
Taken from the forthcoming book, “Blantyre Explained” by Paul D Veverka (2016)
Photo: Courtesy of Glasgow Herald Archives.
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