Continued from Part 5
They still talk in Blantyre about the teacher in the days gone by who asked, “What famous man was born at Blantyre?” and received the prompt answer from a little nipper, “Jimmy Brownlie?!” Historians and others not well versed in football were, of course shocked when they heard about this reply from the little nipper, adorned with football boots, who obviously had never heard of David Livingstone.
Incidentally, the same Jimmy Brownlie was still hale and hearty in 1950 and although based at Dundee that year, saw his old club win that Scottish Junior Cup and for the first time in their long and illustrious career, to make their Jubilee Year complete. Nobody could deny that in 1950, their win was worthy and earned, especially as it was 0-0 at half time. The Evening Times newspaper carried the headline – “Year of Jubillee – Blantyre Victorious” on the same day the team brought the cup back to Blantyre.
Now here’s an interesting sideline. One of the old boys who had been connected with Victoria in the early days was still going strong in 1950. He was none other than the father of the then match secretery, Jock Fleming. In 1950, Jock was allegedly still teasing his dad about the fact that in his first year as match secretary, he helped Victoria to win the Scottish Junior Cup, a feat, which eluded the old man and his mates all those years ago at the start.
It is worth mentioning those players who won the cup for Vics in 1950:
Jack Warren – was a toolmaker to trade and, although described as continental in style, a grand custodian nonetheless. Joined Vics from Dennistoun Waverely and had Juvenile training with Penilee Athlectic. Later, he shortly after went abroad.
William Gilmour – had also played for Penilee Athletic. He was a steady back who didn’t find a place in the Victoria team until the semi-final second game against Stoneyburn. Employed as an engineer with Glasgow Corporation. He then joined Coltness United.
Alex McCulloch – a former Benhurb player. A reliable performer he hailed from Glasgow, and his admirers thought he should have been a senior player long before he won a Scottish Cup honour with “vics”.
John Allan – Known by the nom de plume “Puggy” after the former well known Hamilton Academicals full back. Small, but good. Joined Victoria from the Blantyre Welfare team and in 1950 was on a transfer list.
Alex Young – Captain of the side not only in name but by deed and action. Gained numerous representative honours with the Lanarkshire Junior F.A and captained Junior Scotland. Joined Victoria from Kilsyth Rangers, and in 1950s was later playing with Aberdeen.
George Wright – was normally a left-winger who could do no wrong. He was drafted in during an emergency and had noted success. His previous clubs included St Anthony and Dalry Thistle.
Jack Gill – The opportunist supreme. He was with Clyde but didn’t have much chance to show his wares with the “Bully Wee.” He was a centre forward with Dennistoun Waverley before joining Clyde. He could have been with Belfast Linfield had he desired.
Robert Herbert – Long striding Bob. Another Bob McPhail of Rangers if ever there was one. Rangers and the Scottish Clubs, however allowed him to depart to Doncaster Rovers. He joined Blantyre Vics as a right half from the Maryhill Youth Club.
James Swan – A Dalmarnock Congregational Church team product, Jimmy had scored some great goals for Victoria, none better than the flying header which helped his side to beat formidable Bo’ness United at Newton Park on the way to the final on the previous season.
James Lennon – James was one of the “guid stuff in sma’ bulk” type. He was a splendid little player and another recruit from the Dennistoun Waverely camp. He was a Prinsoner of War for several years during the Second World War. By 1950, he simply couldn’t be caught by defenders. He joined Falkirk and is a favourite “Bairn.”
Tom Rennick: was the youngest of the team, but played in the final like a veteran. He was a native of Coatbridge and had a flair for the Jimmy Delaney “cut in” and surprise shot – and it paid dividends. He later went to St Mirren.
In the 1950’s Alex Young, Jimmy Lennon and Bob Herbert of the Scottish Cup winning side went into senior football with Aberdeen, Falkirk and Doncaster Rovers respectively. Archie Anderson, former Vics Match secretary went on to manage Ayr United.
In season 1949/ 1950 the Vics in their Jubilee year were also the proud owners outright of Castle Park, something they were very proud to purchase and still own the grounds today. The grounds have a capacity of 6,000 people, which saw this figure reached against Juniors , 6th Round Scottish Junior Cup Final in 1945.
Born in the 1920’s, Mr. Andrew Duncan, a former player was invited to join the Committee at Blantyre Vics in 1957. He was nicknamed Dally.
The Club had been going through a bad spell after their successes in the 1940’s. The seasons at the end of the 1950’s saw the club get back on an even keel and into a debt free position through increasing the management committee.
Dally Duncan persuaded his friend Hugh Smith to take over as coach. He had been very successful as a coach with the Glasgow Juvenille Club – Regent Star. They later enlisted Jim Dunbar and Jim McGuiness (both ex Vics players) as Hugh’s assistant and they had sole responsibility for the scouting, signing and discipline of the players while Mr Smith and his assistants carried out the coaching, training and team selection.
They worked well together as a team and many successes followed, to the delight of the supporters. On 7th December 1959, Vics beat Darvel 12-8 in the second round of the West of Scotland Cup. Billy McNeil played Centre Half in that game.
To give you an idea how exciting that was, the half time score was 6-6!! Billy left Vics that season to join Glasgow Celtic, which he would later captain.
Continued on Part 7
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016
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