Continued from Part 8
Vics support dwindled in the late 80s and early 1990’s as supporters buses left local pubs on their way to Rangers and Celtic matches. The juniors also suffered from the modern day TV and the introduction of interactive betting shops. Before these “handicaps” junior clubs had relatively good support.
Amongst the 1992 team were players Dougie Borland, Jim Wylie, Tommy Paterson, Tommy MacDonald, Stevie McHugh and Harry McDade. Graham Nisbet was goalkeeper. The 1996 team included players Tommy Goodwin, Jim Allan, John Paul Darcy, Dougie Brownies, Mark Lang, Tommy Maider, Harry Mcdade, John Mccabe and Gary Shearer.
A new Pavillion was opened in 1993, an important event for the Club. No amount of praise is too great to illustrate the grand job that was done by Tommy Corrigan, his officials, Committee and helpers in this task. It was something that many a previous committee and failed to do.
Vics had to wait until season 1995/1996 for their next trophy, the Central League cup. In Season 1997/1998 Vics managed to get to the Semi-final of the Junior Cup, but were beaten by Pollock FC, the eventual winners of the trophy.
Their success continued the following season 1998/1999 when they won Division 1 Championship. They also reached the Semi-Final of the League Cup and Abercorn Cup. It should be noted here of the hard work by the Committee and Supports Clubs. Each one contributed in their own way towards the success of this club. The menial taks required to keep the club running took up many hours of unpaid, volunteer time.
Supporters started to find other outlets on a Saturday and today’s crowds can be counted in dozens, not hundreds. Many of the Junior Football Society Clubs have now closed and the remainder do struggle to receive any real financial support. It is difficult and perhaps even pointless to compare today’s team with the past.
In 2014, a reunion took place of all the players who took part in the famous 1982 Ibrox victory. A dozen players plus coach John McGowan and committee member Jimmy Gibson attended the successful social event, which took place in the Vics’ Social Club, and also included local man Russell Craig who was Baillieston’s manager. Several current office-bearers at Vics supported the event, including long-serving match secretary Andy McDade. Jackie McGilvray, a Vics’ office-bearer who organised the reunion, said at the time: “I’m very friendly with Jimmy Grant who played in the final, and we’ve talked about it over the years, so I suggested we do something to recognise these guys. I’m glad I did on behalf of the Vics. The reunion was a roaring success – it was a great night, a hearty response and a lot of cheerful reminiscing once the players got together again. It was a great achievement for the club, with a lot of difficult ties to overcome, including a win at Glenafton, which was considered a major achievement in those days, and a 2-0 win over Kirkintilloch Rob Roy.” Vics continue to play well today, where they compete in the West Region of the Scottish Junior Football Association. Duncan Sinclair is current club secretary, Terry Hewitt, Club captain.
In recent years, the name Castle Park has been relegated to history. The football ground now renamed “The KG Stadium” after a local sponsor. The club continues to do well.
Accolades: The team won the Scottish Junior Cup (the highest achievement in junior football) in 1950, 1970 and 1982. A list of other cup winner accolades are: West of Scotland Cup 1944, Central league Cup 1977, Central Region League Cup 1996, Lanarkshire Challenge Cup 1904, 1914, 1916, 1924, 1940, 1943, 1946, 1949 and 1968, Lanarkshire Central Cup 1932, 1944 and 1957, Hozier Cup Winners 1966. League Championships included Lanarkshire League 1893, 1906, 1911, 1917, 1920 and 1927. Central league Championships 1936 and 1980. Central Regional League Division 1 1981, 1996 and 1999 Central Regional League Division 2 1980.
Famous Players: Some famous players to have started their careers at Blantyre Vics include: Billy McNeil (later captain and manager of Celtic), Joe Jordan (later of Leeds United, Manchester United and A.C. Milan), Jock Stein (later legendary Celtic Manager), Charlie Johnstone of Motherwell, Dunfermline, Mansfield, Doncaster, Queen of the South and Rangers. Both the grandfathers of Scotland internationals Jonathan Gould (Coventry, Celtic, Preston North End) and Stuart McCall (Everton, Rangers, Bradford City, Sheffield United) also played for the Vics. Gordon McLean was also a great player for the “Vics” back in the 1950s and was regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the Scottish game and even played three times for Motherwell until a knee injury forced him to retire at an early age despite interest from East Stirlingshire and Newcastle United. Vics most capped player was Tommy Coghill. Most appearance went to John McGurk and Most Goals was by Donnie McLean.
Too many changes in Blantyre and the game have taken place, not all of them good for the sport. Youth policy, investment in local talent and the growth of intitutions like Blantyre Soccer Academy are the positives that will see Blantyre’s interest in football grow. It is important that people have time to ensure this happens.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016
With sincere thanks to Bill McCreadie, A Duncan and Blantyre Vics.