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
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Gary Murray Here here Marion. Played football with Leicester City BC as a teenager…Legend ⚽️