Billy Gallacher – we salute you


Today, I want to honour somebody contemporary who does so much for Blantyre and deserves his story to be told.

Mr. William Gallacher  is better known as Billy. Billy is one of Blantyre’s contemporary and recognised personalities of present day Blantyre. He is most known as being an ex footballer and associated with Old Parish Church, High Blantyre.

He was born on 18th July 1944, the youngest of a large family to John Gallacher and Catherine Purse in Auchentibber. Amongst his elder brothers and sisters were Catherine, May, John, George, Elizabeth, Robert, Margaret and Thomas. This large family would eventually go on to give John and Catherine 35 grandchildren! The Purse family was known to have been in the area living at Dykehead Rows since the late 1880’s.

Billy’s early years saw him living at Brown’s Land in Auchentibber and according to the Auchentibber School Parish register, he enrolled into Auchentibber Primary School on 27th April 1949. His time there was to be short lived, for on 6th December 1949, he left that school, only months after being there and broke with the family tradition of his siblings going to High Blantyre Primary, by continuing hhis education at Auchinraith Primary School then moving on to Calder Street Junior Secondary School.

His interest in football started at a young age and throughout his school years he displayed skills in the sport that would see him destined to pursue a career as a footballer, living every young boy’s dream. He signed with Motherwell Football Club and played junior football with local Blantyre Victoria, a club still especially close to Billy’s heart. He also played for a time with Rutherglen Glencairn.

A particular highlight of his career was in 1970, when he was part of the winning Blantyre Vics team that defeated Penicuik to win the Scottish Junior Cup in front of 30,000 fans at Hampden Park, with a 1-0 win. Billy took the winning trophy around local primary schools to show the kids that year.

Away from sports, Billy started his working life in the administration office of the Blantyre Vp-op in Herbertson Street, although later moved to Whitbred Brewers, and then on to Bells Whisky.

As he advanced within the company, he witnessed many mergers with licensed trade and his job took him to many social gatherings for business and charity, including sports sponsorship events. The highlight of his business career would surely have been in 1999 when he received the Scottish Licensed Trade News Award for Lifetime Achievement, picking up an award from BBC, presented by Hazel Irvine at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow.

Around the post Millennium, Billy retired after 30 years service to the licensed trade, during which time he had raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities throughout Scotland. At one remarkable even that he organised, £26,000 was raised in one day.

As well as fronting events throughout Scotland, he is always willing to give his undoubted talents and charm to any local events and was heavily involved in the centenary celebration events to raise funds for Blantyre Victoria’s new pavilion.

Billy is quite the character in Blantyre whom many people will know today with his current close association with High Blantyre Old Parish Church and formerly with local team, Blantyre Vics. He is integral in assisting with organising the church summer fete and other events. Billy will always stop for a chat away when you meet him in the street.

He now lives at “Greenacre” a beautiful detached bungalow on Hunthill Road and has a very well kept garden. He is a kind, warm-hearted man, charitable with a sense of humour that many people can associate with.

Pictured in the 1970s is Billy on an organised trip with Bells. Also, I took this photo of him in full church fete “mode” in summer 2014.

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016

On social media:

Thomas Barrett Great tribute to a lovely man.

Ishbel McKinlay-Wilkie Very well said Bill…when my elderst sister Mary and husband Alex used to visit Don and I every summer here in Canada she always brought gifts for Don and I from Billy. I don’t remember him but sis Mary said he was a great guy!,xxx

The Blantyre Project Thanks Ishbel, by the way its Paul Veverka here writing this. There is nobody called Bill associated in any way with Blantyre Project’s History Archives. 😉 thankfully.

Ishbel McKinlay-Wilkie The gifts were for our bar…

Marion Robertson Lovely tribute to Billy, great guy x

Selina Fleming Must agree great guy x

Elizabeth Dobson Grieve Billy was at school with my dad.

Craig Nobes Also ran Leicester city football team and have great memories of his time doing this being a young boy playing football
Gary Murray Here here Marion. Played football with Leicester City BC as a teenager…Legend  ⚽️

Marion Robertson I’ve known Billy a long time he used to babysit me and my sister, saw the Vics win the cup back in 1970 when Billy was captain, great memories x

Julia William McGovern Lovely family great tribute xx

Stacey Duncan Missed out his brothers David and Alex x

The Blantyre Project Ta. I was mentioning only his older siblings in the article though. Big family. Added them in now. 😉

Lynne Bell Lovely family.x

Caroline Kilgour Great tribute to Billy x

Diane Diane Gallagher Lovely man x

Jeanette Allardyce Ward Alex is the father of my son in law. Billy is his uncle 🙂x

Craig Nicholson Great guy. 😉

Colin Wotherspoon I met this guy in Redlees Park one day a nice amiable bloke seemed easy going liked a blether always thought it would be great to meet him again

Gerry Sullivan Chuffed to call Billy a friend … a top guy 👍

Brendan Mcghee Ive known Billy for years especially thro the blantyre snooker club which was above the credit union . Did a huge amount of charity work 👍

Linda Carroll Billy a Wonderful man and a True Gentleman x

Peter Leggate One of the best!

Isobel Watson Absolute gem…..lovely family.x

The Blantyre Project Sometimes you’ve just got to stop for a second and recognise what others are doing or have done. Well done Billy.  😉

Wilma Hayburn McNulty David Gallacher a wee story about your big bro ha ha he’s no the worst oor Billy xx

Gail Mcguinness great couple , wish more people were like them xx

Thomas Barrett Just met him there in High Blantyre had a wee blether about the match tonight gentleman.

The Blantyre Project nothing i like better than a chat with Billy in the Main Street too. 😉

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