Tag Archives: Denis Law

1974 – The Summer Of Roary, Dennis and Jinky

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, June 2021

As I look forward to tonights match between Scotland and England I realise that some years just seem to stick in your memory more than others.
It’s probably no coincidence therefore that some of my most vivid memories come from years when the football World Cup was being held.

As a kid the first football match I ever watched on TV was the 1966 World Cup Final.

By the time the next World Cup rocked up in Mexico 1970 I was a football obsessive spending all my spare time kicking a ball around with my mates.

By 1974 I was training a couple of times a week, playing Saturday mornings for the school, Saturday afternoons for the local boys-club and Sundays for the youth club.

Truth be told my club allegiances in those days were probably secondary to my support for the national team.
I watched Scotland religiously in my youth, but I had never seen us beat England.

That was all about to change in 1974.

1974 is one of those years that’s etched in my memory….
Apart from leaving school, starting work and going on my first ‘lads holiday’… 74 was the year that Scotland were making their first World Cup appearance since the year I was born (1958).

A big part of social life back then was the Youth Club….. a bi-weekly haven of sport, music and social interaction.
Approaching 16 I was now old enough to go on some of the organised youth club trips, the first one being a day trip to Butlins in Ayr on Saturday May 18th, 1974.

I remember the date because it was the day I finally got to see Scotland beat England and oh yeah, the day I got chased by a bam-pot with a sword and beat Alberto Juantorena’s 800 metre record.

The day started off well enough with an early morning coach ride to Ayr and was followed by time spent at the Butlins amusement park, a mini-pleasure beach, before we followed some of the older lads into the spectacular Beachcomber Bar.

The Beachcomber Bar at Butlins was probably the most exotic and glamorous place I’d ever seen, it was like something from South Pacific.
Of course, looking back now it was a mishmash of bamboo furniture and plastic plants with a few paper lanterns, paper-mache artefacts and hanging baskets thrown in for good measure, however it seemed very avant garde in 1974.

The game was being shown on a tv in the bar and even allowing for the watered-down lager…. the combination of event, location and community spirit, made for an intoxicating atmosphere.

Every year we approached the big game against the auld enemy with ambition and hope, usually to be left in despair, but in 74 there was cause for optimism. Unlike England we had qualified for the 74 World Cup plus our team was full of top players and big personalities.  

One of those big personalities was wee Jimmy (Jinky) Johnstone fresh from his ‘Largs Boat Incident’.

For those that don’t know… wee Jinky and a few teammates went out for a refreshment in Largs three days before the England game and whilst staggering back to the team hotel wee Jinky decided to jump in a boat that got pushed out to sea by Sandy Jardine for a laugh, there was only one problem, there were no oars on the boat.
Knowing Jinky couldn’t swim, Davie Hay a teammate tried to help by setting sail on another boat, which duly sprung a leak and sank!

Jinky reliving the moment

With Jimmy sailing into the distance and heading for the North Star the coastguards were called by his beleaguered teammates and Jinky’s exploits were splashed all over the front pages of the Scottish press, with most pundits calling for him to be sanctioned and dropped.

In the end Jinky had the last laugh.
95,000 fans watched Scotland win 2-0 that day.
Jinky gave a man of the match performance and famously gave the V sign to the press after the game.

The punters in the Beachcomber went mental at the final whistle and nobody wanted to leave that bar except the coach driver.

On the way home I sat beside a girl I’d known since I was 7 years old who was not in the best form as she was having major boyfriend trouble.
He was a few years older than us and a renowned psycho.
As far as her friends and family were concerned she’d finally come to her senses as she wanted to break up with him, but she knew it wouldn’t be that simple.
I tried to take her mind off things, talking about goofy stuff from our past 8 years as friends and classmates, however, when we got back to Westerton the guy was waiting and her face just dropped.

On a high from the day’s events I hung out with my mates for a bit, reliving the highlights of the day before I decided to head home, I was about half a mile from my house when I heard this guy shouting and running towards me, he was about 200 yards away but I could still see the huge blade he was brandishing, it was the mental boyfriend…. I’ve never ran so fast in my life.

My friend had attempted to split up with him again that night, which he didn’t take well. He’d heard that I’d spent the coach journey home with her, put 2 and 2 together… and decided I was dead!

Cut forward 6 weeks…. Scotland had been knocked out of the World Cup in Germany despite their valiant effort in remaining unbeaten during the tournament.

Scotland team at 74 World Cup

With the World Cup over, and proof if needed that German efficiency trumps everything…. even Johan Cruyff and total football, I headed off on holiday with my family to Majorca.

We were staying at a quiet part of the island so I thought I was seeing things, when on the beach, I spotted Dennis Law, one of my footballing hero’s, fresh from his participation in the World Cup with Scotland.

King Dennis

Law was footballing royalty; he’d been a member of the all-conquering Man United team along with George Best and Bobby Charlton and was jokingly referred to as having the reflexes of a mongoose, ‘and the haircut to match’.
Indeed, with his spiky feather cut and gallus approach Law was footballs answer to Rod Stewart… who also idolised the ‘Lawman’.

Dennis & Rod

I had never asked anyone for an autograph before, but I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass, no matter how starstruck I was

Before I approached the Lawman however I had to do one thing… I nipped back to my room and in the absence of a Scotland top I put on my ‘Roary Super Scot’ t-shirt, like some weird fanboy.
Roary, for the uninitiated was the rather juvenile mascot of the Scotland 74 World Cup team.

Looking back now I’m embarrassed that I disturbed the guy on his holiday when he was probably just looking for a bit of peace and quiet after a tough season, but he was really friendly and approachable and made a point of coming over to talk to me and my Dad whenever he saw us.
He was staying in the hotel next door to ours, and even asked me to mind his son on the beach a few times whilst him and his missus went for lunch.

Getting the great mans autograph

Despite being an Aberdonian he was a good tipper and always gave me a couple of hundred Pesetas, which in 74 was enough for a couple of beers and a few plays on the jukebox where Santana’s Samba Pa Ti and Oye Como Va were on heavy rotation….. unfortunately or perhaps fortunately the 1974 Scotland World Cup song wasn’t on there .

I remember a lot about 1974 as I do with 1978 and 1982, something big always happened for me in those World Cup years, 2021 isn’t a World Cup year but I hope I can remember it as the year we beat England and got through to the group stages of the Euros for the first time (along with our English cousins of course).

joe jordan ate my rice pudding

Alan Fairley: Edinburgh, March 2021

Black tie dinners – doncha just love them?

From the gilt edged invite to the expense of hiring an outfit from Moss Bros and the humiliation of having your inside leg measurement taken by an over eager tailor followed by the uncomfortable fitting of the winged collar and the black bow tie….. all in the interest of appearing ‘dapper’ (whatever that is) – to the event itself where you sit alongside similarly dressed individuals, all of whom would no doubt have been happier to have come along in their trackies rather than being dressed like penguins.
It’s a ritual in the business world which has been in force for centuries and which, gladly for Moss Bros and their competitors, shows no signs of abating.

During my years in the financial services industry, I attended such an event, and followed the aforementioned ritual, every twelve months.

The occurrence took place when one of my clients hosted its annual charity dinner and auction to raise funds for a Leeds based charity which endeavoured to fulfil the last wishes of Yorkshire children with terminal illnesses.

Such wishes, which were almost always fulfilled, ranged from trips to Disneyland, personal meetings with sports/TV stars or even something less spectacular such as an X-Box which the stricken child’s parents could not afford.

A kind of Jim’ll fix it without the Jim – although we’ll leave that subject untouched for now.

So, off I would head to the banqueting suite at Elland Road, home of Leeds United, every year, bow tie at the ready, to host a table of corporate guests (including at least one B-list celebrity), listen to some equally B-List speakers then watch as the auction would raise, quite literally, thousands of pounds for this very worthy cause.

As such I was in the fortunate position of meeting a number of celebs a few samples of whom are as follows.

Jimmy Greaves and Denis Law
Greavsie, with his TV experience, was a real funny character. Some great stories including the famous one about the Scottish football radio commentator who asked a colleague to confirm the name of a scorer for Italy in a game at Hampden then announced over the airwaves that Fucktivano had opened the scoring. (think about it!)

I’ve no recollection of Denis Law’s speech. I was too much in awe of him and just to be in the same room as him was a privilege for me.
I got them to pose for a Polaroid afterwards – although as you can see Greavsie was getting a bit too friendly with my missus who was working at the event as a table hostess.

Denis was staying at the same hotel as me so we shared a taxi back – he hails from Aberdeen, so needless to say, I paid!

Bobby Collins
Another Scottish football legend, Bobby played for Morton, Celtic and Leeds and was capped 31 times for Scotland
During the dinner there was a game of stand up, sit down bingo where all guests were asked to donate £20 pounds to the charity. Bobby leaned over to me and said ‘you couldnae lend me 20 pounds could ye pal, I’m skint.’
As they say, you can take the boy out of Glasgow….. you know the rest.

Neil & Christine Hamilton
The Hamiltons were high profile in the late 1990s/early 2000s initially when Neil Hamilton, a conservative MP, was embroiled in the well publicised  ‘cash for questions’ affair.
This was followed by some lurid allegations regarding the couple of sexual misconduct which were subsequently disproved.

They agreed to take part in a question and answer session at the dinner one year and the tone was set when the first question came from an elderly Yorkshireman who stood up and hilariously asked-
“I’ve been a bit lonely since my wife passed away, any chance of a threesome tonight?”
Above the ensuing laughter, Mrs Hamilton replied with a definite ‘No, next question please.


Paul Daniels
I was staying at the same hotel as the magician and his wife, Debbie, and was asked by the organisers of the dinner to organise a taxi to take them to the venue. Ive never been a huge fan of his, a feeling which was magnified when I introduced myself in the hotel lobby and received a snarled response of ‘so what?’
He did however redeem himself to some extent in my eyes with a rather amusing one-liner when he invited a rather portly gentleman on to the stage during his magic show. ‘What line of work are you in?’ he asked of him ‘Waste management’ was the reply Staring at the man’s expansive midriff he quipped ‘you’re not making a very good job of it, are you?

Debbie, by contrast was a lovely lady – polite, courteous and overwhelmingly grateful when I arranged their transport to the dinner. As has often been said – ‘what could possibly have attracted her to multi millionaire Paul Daniels?’

Jack Charlton
Without sounding sanctimoniously self-righteous I always tried to do my bit personally for the charity at these events. I have collected football programmes all my life and had (and still have) a vast collection going back almost 70 years.
Every year that I attended the dinner I would choose a programme relating to one of the guests, get them to sign it and place it in the auction. The results were greater than I could have imagined. I got Denis Law and Leeds legend Peter Lorimer (rest in peace, Peter) to sign the programmes from their international debuts and they were auctioned for 350 and 700 pounds respectively.

When I heard one year that Jack Charlton was going to be in attendance I dug out the programme from his England debut  (v Scotland 1965), approached him at the top table and asked if he would sign it and place it in the auction.
“No problem’ he said and I returned to my table confident that a programme signed by a former Leeds captain and England World Cup winner would raise a significant sum for the charity.
The auction came and went and there was no mention of the programme.

When the dinner finished I watched Charlton pick up the programme, stick it in his pocket and head off home.
To say I was greatly disappointed in Charlton’s behaviour that particular night is an understatement.

Other than those mentioned Ive met many interesting people at this event including Sir Ranulph Fiennes who ran seven marathons in seven days for charity and who narrowly lost out to Roger Moore in the casting for the part of James Bond, the Cheeky Girls, who let me in on their intimate secret as to how anyone could tell them apart, Nick Leeson who infamously brought Barings Bank crashing to the ground and Roger de Courcey with Nookie bear who brought the house down with some very adult, post-watershed, humour.

Gabriela & Monica or is it Monica & Gabriela??

But now, ladies and gentlemen, to the main event of the evening.

Joe Jordan
With the event being held at Elland Road, there was always a healthy attendance of great Leeds United figures, past and present.
As well as the aforementioned Lorimer, Collins and Charlton, I was privileged to rub shoulders with the likes of John Charles, Allan Clarke, Terry Yorath and Arthur Graham but my anticipation levels rose significantly when I found out that my table guest one year was to be none other than Joe Jordan, a true Scottish legend.

We sat beside each other during the dinner, exchanging memories throughout the starter and the main course and when the dessert was served, the waitress planked down two large plates of rice pudding in front of us.
I’ve always hated rice pudding. I don’t know why. Maybe I had a bad experience at school dinners with one but its almost been like a gastronomic phobia for me.

Joe, clearly harboured no such fears and demolished his portion the way he used to demolish opposing defences. He then saw my untouched plate and uttered the immortal words “are you no wanting that, pal?”
I shook my head and watched as he hauled my plate in front of him and scoffed every last morsel.

To summarise my black tie dinner experiences, I’ve shared a taxi with one of my personal heroes Denis Law, I’ve been tapped for twenty quid by another Scottish international footballer, I’ve been snarled at by Paul Daniels, I (and the charity) have been shafted by Jack Charlton and I’ve learned how to differentiate between the Cheeky Girls but the highlight of them all, and my claim to fame is, without doubt…..