(*a little bit fact; a bit more fiction; much exaggerated.*)
Wednesday 31st May 1972 – (aged 13, end of 2nd year)
Everyone today is talking about a band from Holland called Focus. They were on the Old Grey Whistle Test last night. Most in the Smokers Union shelter say how amazing that yodeling guy was. Some though, those I see wearing the ex-RAF great coats with an LP by the band stuck under their armpit, have a smug ‘told you’ smile and ignore our conversation.
It was very wet at PE time. Old Boot (gym teacher) decided it was too wet to play football. What?! This is Glasgow. Rangers, Celtic, Thistle, Clyde and Queens Park all manage to play ok.
Anyway – PE was switched indoors to the gym. Everyone has football boots – only a few also brought gym shoes. Those of us who hadn’t were lined up to get two of the belt! Old Boot got more exercise than any of us.
Buses were late to pick us up at 4 o’clock. Had to stand out in the rain till they arrived. Trip home was a bit smelly.
Rain stops but did some studying for exams till teatime then out to the clearing in the woods for a game of football. Get chased by Mr McIlwham who says we shouldn’t be using trees as goalposts because they can feel the ball hitting against them. (Cuckoo!)
Lucky we weren’t using a Mitre Mouldmaster, then is all I can say.
Well, that’s it – game’s a bogey! We tell Mr McIlwham that we’re off now to break some windows and scrawl graffiti.
See us kids, eh?!
(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – March 2022)
We’ve all experienced those awkward few seconds of satellite delay after being asked a question from left-field.
You know the type… What time did you get in last night? Where did you leave the car keys? How much were those new shoes again?
A self-defence mechanism usually kicks in as you punctuate the silence with an “ehh…” here or an “erm…” there while formulating your response.
Now, imagine you were going to make your debut on live radio and the only brief you’d been given was never, and I mean NEVER, allow any dead air.
That was the situation I found myself back in 1977 when I was asked to cover a Clydebank-Hibs game for Radio Clyde in my days as a local newspaper reporter.
It was no biggie, they said. A wee pre-match chat with presenters Richard Park and Paul Cooney, throw in some team news, another chat at half-time, phone in any goal flashes and then a full-time wrap, as they say in Radioland.
The producer, on hearing it was to be my first time doing a live broadcast, then gave me my pep talk about making sure there was no dead air.
“Just remember, George, radio silence might be good in war-time…but it’s no effin good any other time.”
Fair point well made.
I turned up at Kilbowie Park in plenty of time, got settled in to my seat in the left-hand corner of the social club – which doubled as a press box on match days – overlooking the pitch and pored over the team sheet when it was handed out an hour before kick-off.
This information would form the basis of the pre-match chat so I duly noted the changes in both sides from the week before, made a few notes and – as it was November 5 – dusted off a few Guy Fawkes Night puns.
You know the ones…the Bankies will have to light a bonfire underneath themselves if they’re going to get out of relegation trouble, Hibs have a few sparklers of their own up front today and Clydebank boss Bill Munro will be hoping he doesn’t have to give his side a rocket at half-time after falling behind to an early goal again.
I was ready as I’d ever be and put in the call to Radio Clyde HQ and spoke to the producer.
“We’ve got a few minutes before you’ll be on,” he said, “They’re just starting to go round the grounds just now. By the way, how do you pronounce your surname?”
“It’s Cheyne, as in gold chain.”
“Really?…okay then. Stay on the line and you’ll hear a click just before you’re due to go on.”
I spent the next 10 minutes or so trying to prepare for any curve-ball questions which might be coming my way – and so avoid the dreaded dead air.
Click. This was it, my live radio debut…..
“And now we’re off to Kilbowie Park where we can speak to our reporter George Shyann ahead of the Clydebank-Hibs game. Tell us, George…which way is the wind blowing at Kilbowie today?”
If I’d prepped for a week solid I could never have anticipated that question. Left-field doesn’t begin to cover it.
A trickle of sweat meandered its way down my back as I looked out the social club window for a clue, any kind of clue – about which way the wind was blowing.
Nothing, not a damn thing. Meanwhile, I had broken the world record for the number of times anyone has uttered the “ehh…” and “erm…” sounds on live radio.
After what seemed like an eternity, I was finally able to blurt out: “It appears to be swirling all around the ground.”
“Ah, well, and what’s the team news today, George?”
I was completely thrown by the question about the wind and went on auto-pilot to read out the teams, formations and changes. No Guy Fawkes references, no witty chat…nothing.
The call ended, I slumped back into my seat and and said a silent prayer for a 0-0 game so I wouldn’t need to go back on to tell the waiting world about any goal flashes.
No such luck. Clydebank scored through Billy McColl before half-time and I had to put in the call.
Click. “And we’re off to Kilbowie where George Chainey has news of a goal. Who’s it for, George?”
No dead air this time as I managed to give an account of the goal without tripping over my tongue.
Half-time arrived and, just before I checked in again, a press box pal sidled up to me with the reason behind the question about the wind.
He’d been listening to Radio Clyde on his way to Kilbowie and the topic du jour was whether games should be called off because of high winds.
That would have been handy to know, but I wasn’t able to hear the broadcast while I was waiting to go on.
No matter. I could go out in a blaze of glory with my full-time wrap peppered with references to the winds of change blowing through Kilbowie after a 1-0 win and tweak the Guy Fawkes Night puns that I never got to use.
I check in with the producer and he tells me I’m next up. “One thing,” he says, “Don’t use any references to high winds or Guy Fawkes Night…everyone else has being doing that today.”
I blame John Reid actually, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be standing here on a miserable, wet, Sunday morning.
I’m out walking the dog but find myself staring at a group of guys playing football. I’ve no idea who they are, or who they represent, but it’s entertaining none the less. Like most amateur players the ability levels are as wide as the bulk of some of them, but you get drawn in all the same.
So why do I blame John ? Well, it was John who took me to my first proper football match on 4th September, 1971, and what an introduction it was.
Aged 14 I had never been to a proper game or for that matter, even followed a specific team. Sure, I had played football down the local park with pals, but I’d never had a real interest in the sport.
So on this fateful day and on John’s insistence off we ventured, catching the No.11 bus into town via Maryhill road, exiting at Queens cross (with just about everyone else on the bus) and then taking the short walk to Firhill, home of Partick Thistle Football Club
As we approached the stadium it was an attack on the senses from all directions… The smells – wafting from various vendors serving up burgers with onions and vinegar and chips. The noise – of merchants touting team merchandise, rattling in yer ears… scarves and hats and badges and programmes. The sights – thousands of people wearing their teams colours in the form of team shirts, scarfs and hats, young and old, male and female.
It was a veritable pre match opera with a drama unfolding on every step.
I had never seen so many people queuing in my life, or seen so many police congregated in one place at one time. Those on horseback marshalled enormous queues of segregated fans sporting their team colours, waiting to pay at (or to be lifted over) the gate.
Beyond that, coaches and mini buses parked up, hailing from towns and places near and far. It soon became my turn to enter, I approached the turnstile, listening for the heavy duty sound of the ratchet clicking as the person ahead gained entry. My heart was thumping !! I was just not prepared for any of this.
Having paid (the princely sum of 15p) I climbed up the Firhill steps and reached the top to look down on a green oasis with goal posts at either end.
Surrounding the pitch there were blue three wheeled invalid cars parked behind the far goal, a covered terrace to the right and the main stand opposite.
My jaw dropped. I had never been amongst so much commotion.
The noise grew even louder as we moved around the terrace to join the throng under the covered area. It was a mass of humanity of all ages, some dressed smartly, some casually attired, and a great number standing astride brown paper carrier bags resting on the ground…. “The Cairy-oot “
The sound was immense as thousands of Thistle fans sung their team’s praises, whilst the opposition fans chanted to show adoration to their team too. In amongst this cacophony though, a lone voice could be heard between the chants…. “Here you are now, here ‘s the Offeeeshall chewing gum, the macaroon bars”. A lone man was standing astride a brown cardboard box with the aforementioned goods, flogging his wares to all comers.
As 3.00pm approached the density of the crowd increased on the steeply stepped terrace. The noise which was already deafening at that point hit a new level as the teams ran out. The crowd converging in a giant mass, only resting when everyone finally found their feet again. Checking my immediate surroundings, I was at least 6ft away from where I had stood before.
The ref blew his whistle and we were off. Rangers were the opposition that day, a team full of Internationals and they took the lead after 5 minutes. There was silence in the Thistle end until the game restarted, with the fans soon trading chants again, and then ten minutes later…. GOALLL for Thistle!!!
The terrace erupted…. people were going mental, embracing each other… moving across the terrace, up and down, left and right. Some had fallen over, cairy-oots had tumbled, pies had disintegrated, but nobody cared. My ears were ringing but the smile couldn’t be wiped off my face or that of my fellow fans, at that moment we were all one.
As the celebrations ended and I literally came back down to earth, I realised that everyone around me was a stranger, the surroundings had changed, and I was about 20ft away from where I had been beforehand…. the “mass” had moved again.
The noise from the Thistle fans was in contrast to the silence of the away support who remained silently static, before hurling abuse at the opposition ( and the odd missile too). Chants and songs soon recommenced, both supports fortifying the support for their team.
The game restarted and normal service was resumed.
On three more occasions that afternoon, fans of each side would experience moments of joy or pain during the game’s 90 minutes.
At full time the Jags had won 3-2, a crowd of 24,500 had witnessed Thistle’s first game back in the top division having gained promotion the previous season.
That was it. I was hooked, I had never experienced anything like this before…. the noise, the smells, the joy, the pain, the camaraderie and most importantly, the belonging.
I was hooked on the match-day experience, this was how I wanted to spend my Saturday afternoons, but now I had to make a decision, who was going to be ‘My Team’?
Half a century on, my love has never faltered, I continue to follow the Jags from afar. As for John, we kind of parted ways as we grew older but then our paths crossed again in the early eighties. He was married and living in Milngavie.
I live down south now so if anyone sees John, please pass on my regards and thank him for gifting me this love of football.
Right, I better get a move on and walk the dog. There ‘s rugby training further down the park, a good excuse to let him off the lead.
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!
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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).
I left school after sitting 5 o’levels, in fact I can even remember my last day at school it was 14th June 1969.
I had a job lined up in an office in Charing Cross after the Glasgow Fair so I was looking forward to the summer holidays with six weeks of long-lie-ins and footie in the park. I was feeling quite pleased with myself at the family dinner table that day teasing my brothers David and Joe (below) about how they had to go back to school whilst I was finished with all that…. but I shouldn’t have spoken so soon.
Unbeknown to me my Dad had nipped out to the local phone box to make a quick call and when he came back he duly informed me that I was to report to the local farm owned by Jim Paul at 4am the following morning to start my summer job, no lazy summer lie-ins for me then, but at least I’d finish work in time to play a bit of footie in the afternoon!
My passion back then was football and it has been ever since. I was obsessed, and if I wasn’t playing football for the school or the Boys Brigade or with my mates in the park, I was watching it or thinking about it, so in the summer of 69 when I read in the evening paper that the 3 main Glasgow teams were inviting players for trials for their youth teams for the 69-70 season, I couldn’t apply quick enough.
Celtic were first to respond with a trial date, it was to be held at St Anthony Junior’s ground in the south side of Glasgow near Ibrox. On arrival I was filtered into a group of trialists for the Under 16 team along with 40 or 50 other lads, we were then told that we’d all get 30 minutes to make an impact and that it was up to us to impress the coaches.
I couldn’t wait to get started. I played in my favoured midfield position but for the next 30 minutes I watched the ball sail over my head from our defence to the oppositions, I was lucky if I touched the ball 10 times and 6 of those were throw-ins!
I remember Brian Thistle (of this parish) was also there trying out for the under 14’s, he did well and unlike me he was invited back. I couldn’t help but feel that I had let myself down but it was a tough environment, not knowing anyone and not really getting the chance to show what I could do. The 30 minutes seemed to go by in a flash and I had a sore neck into the bargain, looking up at the sky trying to see where the bloody ball was!
Next up was Rangers and the local trials were being held in Drumchapel. At least there were a couple of familiar faces in my age group this time, lads who I had played against previously, good players who went on to become pro’s, like Gordon Smith (St Johnstone Aston villa & Spurs ) and Phil Bonnyman (Rangers, Hamilton, Chesterfield & Dunfermline), unfortunately for me however the end result was the same as the Celtic trial. I just couldn’t impose myself in the limited time I had and I sloped off in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be getting a call-back.
The Teddy Bears in 1969
Last but certainly not least was a trial with the mighty Jags from Firhill. The trial was being held at Sighthill Park and I was a bit more relaxed this time as I was accompanied by a couple of pals, Stuart Millan & Ian lamb who were also trying out. There were also a few ‘well-kent’ faces amongst the other trialists, again, lads I knew from School and Boys club football so I felt a lot more at ease.
As I took to the pitch I noticed that the Thistle manager (and a hero of mine) Davie McParland was standing on the touchline. I was more determined than ever to make the most of this opportunity. I lined up in midfield and told the guys taking the centre to knock the ball back to me from the kick off so I could get an early touch, however the ball hit a massive divot, ricocheted off my shin and deflected to my midfield opponent, who I missed with a lunging tackle, and watched from the deck as he went on to score the opening goal.
I could see the coaches scribbling away in their notepads from the corner of my eye and I knew I’d blown it. I actually went on to play pretty well but the damage was already done and unsurprisingly I was not asked to come back unlike my two mates Ian and Stuart.
To make matters worse that day I had arranged to go to the park when I got home to let my mates know how I had got on, most of the boys were sympathetic but I remember one lad called Davie Jenkins who called me a donkey and said I was wasting my time. We had a wee game of football after that (first to 15) and I made sure Davie was in the other team. I also made sure that he was on the end of my first tackle, and I definitely made sure he knew donkeys had some kick on them!
I also decided that it would be best for me to keep any future trials to myself!
My next trial was with a team from Knightswood – Everton Boys Club who were a top youth team. This time my big brother Brian took me and stayed to watch me play. The manager and the lads were really welcoming and I had a great game. So good in fact that the team manager asked me to join the club as soon as I came off the park, which I gladly did and with Brian in attendance he was able to sign the forms as my guardian on the spot.
To round off a great day, heading back to my brothers car I bumped into Davie McParland who’d watched the game. He was kind enough to say that his coaches would have signed me based on todays performance and would I still like to come and train with them? At this point the Everton manager saw what was happening and shouted over “Hey, hands off, he’s ours now Davie”.
I went on to have a great season with Everton, met some brilliant guys and made friends for life with guys like Frank Murphy who went on to become a football agent and John Cairns who’s son I went on to coach at Lennox (see pic below).
I may not have signed for any of the big Glasgow clubs but I had a fantastic time at Everton Boys Club and as the song so aptly says…. “These were the best days of my life”
When it was announced in late 1974 that Led Zeppelin were going to play Earls Court, London in May 75 my great friend Peter Milligan and I vowed to get there any way we could!
We had already seen them perform a stunning gig in Glasgow but Earls Court would be at another level!
Peter decided he would ask his Dad to borrow the work’s van, a two seater Ford Transit, and drive the 800 mile round trip!
He had passed his driving test in the previous Spring but had never driven further than Loch Lomond! (I hadn’t yet learned to drive).
Our tickets were for Sunday 25th, the last night of the tour, but we decided to leave on Friday evening to have two full days to explore all the delights that London had to offer two 17 year olds. (‘I’ve been to London, seen Seven Wonders’ – The Rover by Led Zeppelin)
We cleaned out the joinery tools from the back of the van, put in a mattress, 2 sleeping bags, pillows, bags of food and drink and enough clothes to last us till Monday.
We set off around 7pm.
Our excitement was already reaching fever pitch.
The van only had a basic radio and it was my job to search for rock songs to suit our journey…not an easy task in 1975 with Donny, ABBA and Bay City Rollers dominating the dire Radio1 playlist!
We stopped at services to eat and use the facilities.
Around 11.30pm we decided to get off the M6 and park up for the night. I spotted a sign for Knutsford (the name appealed to our teenage sense of humour!) so we drove into the middle of an affluent housing estate not far from Manchester to stop-over for the night.
The next morning we set off bright and early onto a very foggy dual carriageway heading back to the M6. We had travelled about half a mile when I realised I could only see the reverse side of the road signs! That’s because….we were on the wrong side of the road!! Planes, Trains and Automobiles!!
Luckily it was quiet and there was no other traffic about so Peter got off at the next ‘ON’ ramp and crossed over to the correct side of the road!
We got to London in about 3 hours without further incident.
Amazingly without the use of SatNav (not commercially available for another 20 years) Peter drove straight to the designated hotel’s underground car park in Kensington.
Once parked up we got the tube into central London and headed for Carnaby Street and Soho.
Distracted by our own adventure I had completely forgotten that Scotland were playing England that same day at Wembley in the Home International’s.
Yes it was the infamous ‘What’s the time? It’s 5 Past Kennedy!’ 5-1 defeat to the Auld Enemy.
The city was full of Scots fans in varying degrees of tartan and sobriety.
Beer was on average 18p per pint but we heard of some London bars charging up to a £1.00!
That was probably just an outrageous rumour but whatever the price it was certainly no barrier to yer average Scot! The streets and bars cleared around 1pm as they all headed to Wembley and we continued to explore.
That evening after Scotland’s 5-1 thrashing you’d have actually thought that they had won! The city centre was once again invaded by thousands of tartan clad fans. However most of the bars and restaurants were barring Scots from entering.
Tempers became frayed which led to outbreaks of violence and vandalism.
None of this impacted on Peter and I as we had changed into smart shirts and suits and easily gained entry to the pubs and clubs. We were taking it easy though because at last we were nearing the prime reason for our pilgrimage…..The Mighty Led Zeppelin gig at Earls Court.
The next day we made our way to the venue around 4pm and went into the large pub across the road.
It was already busy with a sea of long hair, denim, leather.
My brother Paul and his friend Gerry had tickets for the gig too and had travelled down by train, they were already in the pub….not that much of a coincidence I suppose as nearly every Zep fan in London was in that pub!
The concert itself was just incredible! From the opening drum intro of ‘Rock and Roll’ everybody was on their feet!
Song after song and solo after solo, amazed and delighted the fanatical 20,000 strong audience.
Robert Plant’s soaring vocals and commanding stage presence, John Bonham’s incomparable drumming, John Paul Jones’s mesmeric keyboard patterns and pounding bass and of course the Maestro himself, Jimmy Page with his incredible, intricate guitar playing and glorious riffs!
They played 16 songs, most of them extended 10-15 minute versions to increasingly ecstatic applause!
The crowd were hearing songs from the band’s most recent album, Physical Graffiti, played live for the first time including the majestic, awe inspiring Kashmir!
The three plus hours they were on stage seemed to pass in an instant. Then they bowed and exited….but we knew they’d be back on as they hadn’t yet played the anthemic ‘Whole Lotta Love!’
After 5 minutes of thunderous applause and foot stomping they reappeared and played two songs including WLL.
Off they went again as the crowd screamed for more! They did come back and I don’t even remember what they played for their third encore as the crowd threatened to blow the roof off.
Then it was all over, the house lights were turned on and most of the crowd reluctantly headed for the exits.
Peter and I and hundreds of fans were actually out on the street when we heard Plant’s blood stirring vocal intro to ‘The Immigrant Song!’
Everybody turned and ran back in to the arena!
No Health & Safety in those days! Nobody tried to find a seat and we all just surged as close to the stage as you could possibly get! After 15 minutes or so they left the stage for the final time!
They had played for over four superb, magical hours and everybody including the band was exhausted!
Dazed and Confused you might say!
It has been said many times that going to a Led Zeppelin concert is akin to a deeply profound, religious experience but I fear that my lack of vocabulary prevents me from accurately describing the true essence of this phenomenal gig.
Truly they were/are The Hammer of The Gods!!
It was a wonderful experience and still to this day the greatest gig I have ever attended.
And nobody ever mentioned that awful football game ever again!…..well apart from the media, pundits, punters, fans etc
Right, class…we’re going to play a wee game of word association here.
If I say “World Cup qualification”, what’s the first thing that springs into those brilliant young minds?
Anyone? I know it’s been a long, long time, but may I remind you this is a history lesson and the subject is the 1970s.
What’s that, David? England, you say? Well, you can take that smug look off your face right now because that is wrong, wrong, wrong. Sure, England were at the 1970 World Cup – but they got a free pass, there was no qualification required.
Really, Torquil? The Scotland rugby team? Firstly, the Rugby World Cup didn’t start until 1987 and, secondly, if rugby is the first thing that springs into your mind, you should probably be in the advanced Higher class instead of being stuck in here with this lot.
Anyone else? What’s that, Johnny…Scotland? You’re on the right track but it’s only partially correct.
Okay, lesson over, the phrase I was looking for was novelty football songs.
The 70s charts were awash with teams belting out their tunes. You know the ones…terracing-style chanting backed up with some cheesy lyrics and fronted by a bunch of giggling players looking like they’d rather be anywhere else than in front of a mic.
It was big business. There were World Cup songs hogging the airwaves at the drop of a Mexican sombrero in 1970, a German tirolerhut in 1974 and an Argentinian gaucho hat in 1978.
Credit where credit’s due, the whole concept was kicked off by England’s 1970 squad singing Back Home.
It was just the nudge football needed to move into the marketing-savvy decade. Every player in Alf Ramsey’s squad was handed a Ford Cortina 1600E – quite the machine back then – and, of course, there was the Esso coin collection and other branded merchandise flying off the shelves everywhere.
That was the marker laid down for Scotland’s World Cup efforts in ’74 and ’78. There were Vauxhall Victors for Germany and Chryslers for Argentina.
From flashy suits to trashy tack, the merch and the money piled up. But it’s those anthems which stick in the mind from all those years ago.
Not that you’ll need any reminding, but here’s a guide to those novelty World Cup tunes of yesteryear.
Back Home – England’s 1970 squad.
Put together by Scot, Bill Martin and Irishman, Phil Coulter, the song somehow managed to avoid a jingoistic theme and settled for a more humble message and a strong connection with the fans who’d be watching the actions from their armchairs.
Cheesy lyric: “They’ll see as they’re watching and praying, that we put our hearts in our playing.”
Best lyric: “Back home, they’ll be thinking about us when we are far away.”
Easy Easy – Scotland’s 1974 squad
Also penned by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, the single abandoned any pretence of humility and instead dived head-first into the possibility that it was going to be easy for Scotland in Germany. Left some of the tub-thumping behind long enough in the middle of the song to personalise things by name-checking Willie Morgan and Denis Law.
Cheesy lyric: “Eanie meanie moe, get the ball and have a go and it’s easy..easy.”
Best lyric: “Ring a ding a ding, there goes Willie on the wing…ring a ding a ding, knock it over for the king.”
Ole Ola – Rod Stewart and Scotland’s 1978 squad
Not sure if Rod was influenced by samba or sambuca when this official single was put together, but it never really caught on. Lots of name-dropping within the tremendously-upbeat lyrics, the song also used Archie MacPherson’s TV commentary from the game Scotland qualified for the tournament.
Cheesy lyric: “Ole ola, ole ola…we’re gonna bring that World Cup back from over there.”
Best lyric: “There’s an overlap, good running by Buchan. Kenny Dalglish is in there. Oh what a goal! Oh, yes…that does it!”
Ally’s Tartan Army – Andy Cameron, 1978
This may not have been the official World Cup song, but it was the one that caught the imagination of the fans. All the talk of really shaking them up when we win the World Cup makes it a proper in-your-face tune and Andy Cameron even got to perform it on Top of the Pops.
Cheesy lyric: “We had to get a man who could make all Scotland proud, he’s our Muhammad Ali, he’s Alistair MacLeod.”
Best lyric: “We’re representing Britain, we’ve got to do our die – England cannae dae it ’cause they didnae qualify.”
It wasn’t only the World Cup which attracted this genre in the 1970s – booking a place in a cup final was closely followed by booking a place in a recording studio.
It meant all sorts of ditties were around in the decade and the novelty never seemed to wear off.
We had Good Old Arsenal (1971 double team), Blue Is The Colour (Chelsea’s 1972 League Cup final team), I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles (West Ham’s 1975 FA Cup final team) and We Can Do It (Liverpool’s 1977 side).
Scotland’s sporting heroes of the 1970s seem to have missed a trick here by not releasing novelty songs of their own when they were at their peak.
But it’s never too late to pay tribute to them, so – with a bit of a tweak here and there for the lyrics – here are the tunes which befit these stars.
Ian Stewart and Lachie Stewart
Gold medalists at the 1970 Commonwealth Games – Keep On Trackin’ (Eddie Kendricks)
European Cup finalists 1970 – Hoops Upside Your Head (The Gap Band)
World lightweight boxing champion 1970 – Ken You Feel The Force (Real Thing)
World Formula 1 champ 1971 and 1973 – Life In The Fast Lane (Eagles)
European Cup Winners’ Cup winners 1972 – Barcelona (Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe)
Two swimming gold medals at 1976 Montreal Olympics – Pool Up To The Bumper (Grace Jones)
League Cup winners in 1971 – Handbags and GladJags (Rod Stewart)
My co-contributor, Russ Stewart, offered advice in a previous article along the lines that you should never meet your heroes, a sentiment which no doubt many will relate to as the experience can often be something of a let down when you realise that the hero you’ve just met is flesh and blood like everyone else and not necessarily the mystical figure you’ve idolised, whether it be on stage, cinema screen, television or in some sporting arena.
During the years I spent in sports journalism I have been fortunate to have come face to face with a number of those that I would describe as heroes. Some have left me feeling disappointed (step forward, Chic Charnley) but, in the main, those that I have met have been pleasant, courteous individuals ie Denis Law, Joe Jordan, Henry Cooper, Jim Watt, Alex Arthur and of course the legend that is Jimmy Bone (sorry Russ), all of whom who have left me feeling that it had been a pleasure to have enjoyed a few brief moments in their company.
Moving away from sport to the other great passion in my life, I feel privileged to have established a genuine friendship over a period of many years with one of rock music’s most influential exponents.
This being a 1970s website, I will rewind to where it all began – Green’s Playhouse, Glasgow, 24th September 1971.
Deep Purple, arguably the highest profile band on the planet at the time (certainly the loudest as noted within the Guinness Book of Records) were riding high on the back of hit singles Black Night and Strange Kinda Woman and were playing in my home city, a gig which I attended along with my now departed schoolmate Nicky Mawbey.
It was our first ‘big’ concert (seeing Mungo Jerry at Kilmardinny Riding Stables a couple of months earlier was good but this was an altogether different ballpark) and my attention was drawn throughout to the charismatic stage presence of the band’s lead singer Ian Gillan.
I couldn’t take my eyes off him but, for the record, this was no man-crush. I didn’t fancy him, I wanted to be him. I wanted to be on that stage screaming into the mic and basking in the adulation of the fans below.
Long brown hair tumbling around his shoulders, his multi-range vocals alternating between screams and whispers, he had the audience, and a 16 year old me, in the palm of his hands throughout.
I no longer wanted to chase the unlikely dream of being a professional footballer. I wanted to be a rock star. I was a wannabe years before the word was even invented.
(As it happened I did become a professional footballer of sorts, playing a couple of trials for semi-pro junior side Glasgow Perthshire and receiving a brown envelope with a crisp one pound note inside after each game before hearing the dreaded words, “don’t call us, we’ll call you”.)
Fast forward 20-odd years and the company I worked for at that time handed me a list of key clients, responsibility for whom had been assigned to myself. (For reasons of confidentiality I can’t disclose the nature of the work involved).
The list comprised roughly 50 names along with each individual’s profession and one particular entry jumped right off the page – Ian Gillan, Recording Artist.
I couldn’t believe my good fortune. After all these years of wanting to be him, I was actually going to be in direct contact with him….or so I thought. Key figures within the music industry tend to delegate their day to day personal affairs to a manager and, after working my way through the list and trying to make contact with the singer I had idolised as a starry eyed teenager, I found myself dealing with his representative, a genial chap by the name of Phil Banfield, who also represented other members of the rock glitterati such as Tony Iommi and Sting.
Phil was delighted when I tentatively advised him of my long time admiration for Ian and before long he was sending me demo CDs and other items of memorabilia, the likes of which very few fans would ever have got their hands on.
One day I was preparing for a family holiday with the wife and kids to Orlando and made a quick courtesy call to advise Phil I would be away from the office for a couple of weeks.
‘Where are you off to?’ he asked
‘Orlando’ I replied
‘Really?- Ian’s out there just now with the rest of the band recording the new Purple album. Tell me where you’re staying and I’ll get him to call you.’
So, off to the land of the free I went, and on arriving in my hotel room, noticed a light on the phone saying there was a voicemail. I dialled in and heard the magic opening words ‘Hi Alan, this is Ian Gillan…..’
I was invited to the studio at Altamonte Springs in central Florida where the band were recording the Purpendicular Album and found myself in the company of legends Gillan, Morse, Glover, Lord and Paice while they were working on a track called The Aviator.
It was an eye opener. I sat in for about two hours and all that was being recorded was Ian Paice’s 10 second drum break between two of the verses.
‘He’s a real perfectionist’ whispered Roger Glover to me after about 12 takes, and only then did I realise how important a 10 second drum break could be (think of In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins with its iconic drum break which was immortalised by the Cadbury’s gorilla and you’ll get the gist.)
After two hours Paicey still wasn’t happy and left the studios frowning.
‘He’ll worry about that all night’ remarked Roger.
Afterwards I adjourned with Mr Gillan to a nearby bar along with some of the band members and road crew in the expectation of hearing lurid tour-related stories concerning naked groupies, outrageous imbibing of alcohol, excessive intake of Class A drugs and the old rock’n’roll favourite, destruction of hotel rooms.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. All were respectable married men in their 50s with kids and grandkids and as such the bar room banter circled around families, schools, gardens, finances, football and the other staple conversation topics of middle aged men sharing a beer after work.
Since then, Ian’s always fixed me up with tickets and backstage passes whenever Deep Purple have ventured north of the border. After a gig at the Armadillo he introduced me to his wife, a lovely lady called Bron to whom he’s been happily married for 37 years and with whom he has a daughter named Grace.
He gave me a signed copy of his autobiography Child In Time and demo copies of both Purpendicular and his solo album Dreamcatcher.
Although I haven’t seen him for some time we remain on each other’s Christmas Card lists and he did send me a particularly comforting message after my wife passed away.
You should never meet your heroes? – I’m thankful that I did
Traipsing round a stuffy museum on a school trip can’t be many people’s idea of fun – it certainly wasn’t mine.
I remember dragging my heels as we toured Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in the Seventies for some history project or other. Yawn!
In and out of airless rooms with an interminable amount of portraits, old stones, suits of armour, stuffed animals and some painting of Jesus on the cross from above. At least I think it was Jesus…you couldn’t even see the guy’s face!
The trouble was not so much about what was in Kelvingrove, but what WASN’T in it. A wee bit of pzazz and a helluva lot of imagination and it could have been far more interesting.
So here are some alternative exhibits for the museum – a shrine to the 60s and 70s, if you will – with some of my own historical notes to go alongside.
Loch Ness Monster
The centuries-old Nessie mystery was finally solved in 1971 when a perfectly-formed skeleton of a 27-metre-long Spinosaurus was discovered on the shores of Loch Ness.
The discovery was hushed up because of national security but the bones have now been released under the 50-year rule and will take pride of place in Kelvingrove.
To give context, the diplodocus dinosaur that was the main exhibit at the entrance to London’s Natural History Museum until 2017 was 26 metres long. It is understood the diplodocus was moved out because the London museum knew Nessie would be a bigger attraction – in every way.
Secret soft-drink formula
This was found in a disused store cupboard at AG Barr’s plant in Cumbernauld. Dating from 1968, it was stuck to an iron girder after some Irn Bru had been spilled on it.
Barr’s donated the secret recipe – for a soft-drink called “ginger” – to the museum because it would be illegal to make these days given the high amount of sugar required.
The alchemist who came up with the formula did so in an attempt to avoid confusion in shops when kids would ask for “ginger” without actually knowing what flavour they wanted.
Robert Burns poem
An original work of the Bard – authenticated by a host of Burns experts – was recently discovered behind a false wall in an 18th-century house in Alloway, Ayrshire.
Historians have long since argued about the “Seventies” mentioned in the poem and, while it was originally thought to be the Bard’s look ahead to the 1870s, it is now widely accepted he was referring to the 1970s.
Ode to a Haggis Supper
Ah could fair stuff my sonsie face,
Wi’ a chieftain o’ the puddin-race,
Dripping in batter and plunged intae hot fat,
Now that wid mak ye a man for a’ that,
Lying on the coonter, O what a glorious sight,
Served up wi’ chips so fluffy and light,
In the Seventies every groaning trencher,
Is bound to be droont in salt ‘n vinegar
Elvis Presley song
An unpublished Elvis Presley song – written on the back of a fag packet – has been donated to Kelvingrove by the late Senga McGlumphey’s family.
Senga was working as a cleaner at Prestwick Airport when Elvis flew in for a stopover in 1960 and got chatting to the legendary singer.
After asking her name, the King started scribbling on a fag packet that Senga had picked up and began humming a tune. A few minutes later Elvis had to leave the building and handed over the Embassy Regal packet with the lyrics to Return To Senga on it.
The song was never published, but it bears an uncanny resemblance to an Elvis smash hit which came out two years later.
Bay City Rollers tartan
This was commissioned in the late 1970s as Les, Eric and the lads tried to unify the tartan clobber they wore to maximise merchandising potential.
Rollers manager Tam Paton came up with the plan to design a new tartan, copyright it and then rake in the big bucks from the new-look merch.
Unfortunately, the band couldn’t agree on a design and the tartan swatches dropped out of sight – until now.
The World Cup trophy
Awarded to Scotland after a series of bizarre FIFA rulings. First, Willie Johnston was granted a free pardon after FIFA admitted it was their doctor who had prescribed the winger the banned tablets at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.
Then FIFA agreed to look at the results from the tournament retrospectively and considered Archie Gemmill’s goal against Holland so good that it was decided Scotland should go through to the next round in their place.
The bigwigs further ruled that if Holland could beat Austria, draw with Germany and beat Italy, then surely Scotland could have – so they were automatically put into a final against Argentina.
This match was to be played in 2021 using the original squads from 43 years ago, but Covid restrictions prevented it taking place.
Under pressure to come up with a solution, FIFA then decided the final would be determined by a shots-drinking competition which, unsurprisingly, Scotland won.
But it wouldn’t be Scotland without some sort of problem and Argentina appealed on the grounds that legendary hardman defender Kenny Burns threatened five of their players during the live Zoom event.
However, the SFA put forward a rigorous defence to FIFA, insisting the player had become something of a philosopher in his old age. And they contested that Burns, when asked where he thought the game should be played, had merely said: “Bright views…ergo outside” instead of the widely-quoted “Right yous…square go outside.”
Do you believe that? Nope, me neither. Kenny Burns only threatening five of them? No chance.
The SFA, rightly thinking they had probably got away with one, decided not to organise a lap of honour round Hampden with the trophy for fear of further antagonising the Argentinians.
“In any case,” a spokesman said, “We already did one of those back in 1978 before the tournament started!”
First things first, this is not a football post, neither it is a Partick Thistle post.
Posts of that nature can be easily found elsewhere on the site but for this travelogue, which details an epic journey from suburban Glasgow to the darkest recesses of Fife in August 1970, both the game of football and the Jags provide convenient pegs on which to hang this partick-ular (see what I did there?) jacket.
Along with Courthill legend Dougie ‘Sparra’ Davidson, I had been following Thistle home and away for some time and the club’s relegation to the Second Division at the end of season 1969-70 had opened up a cornucopia of new travel opportunities resulting in us spending the summer eagerly planning trips to the uncharted waters of places like Montrose, Arbroath, Stirling, Brechin and Forfar, all of which had been, to us, mere dots on a map of Scotland up until then.
Dougie was the main planner. he was the 70s equivalent of Google. How he did it I’ll never know but he seemed to know every bus and train timetable in mainland Scotland as well as the geographical and socio-economic features of most areas of the country and our first major adventure of the season was a journey to The Kingdom of Fife.
Not a trip to the historic burgh of Dunfermline where the bones of King Robert the Bruce rest beneath the town’s abbey.
Not a pilgrimage to St Andrews, the equally historic home of golf.
Not even an excursion to Anstruther where the most famous fish suppers in the world are flipped out from the sparkling friers in all their golden glory.
Nope, none of the above. This was a jaunt to see our team play a League Cup sectional tie against East Fife in the club’s home town of Methil, a locality which had apparently once been described by no less than Prince Philip as a ‘dump’ during his wartime service with the Royal Navy. A remark which the Chookie Embra has since denied, but an opinion which has been shared by, well, pretty much everyone who has ever had the misfortune to visit the place.
Dougie had the itinerary meticulously prepared – early morning bus into Queen Street, train to Edinburgh Haymarket, another train to Kirkcaldy and then a bus to Methil.
All went well until we rolled into Haymarket a few minutes late and missed our connection.
Not to worry, plenty of time in hand so we went out of the station for a brief stroll around the Haymarket environs (little did I know that in six years time I would be buying my first flat just across the road from the station).
The first thing we saw when we emerged was a group of about 15 sullen looking Hibs supporters who, on noticing our scarves, advanced en masse in our direction.
It was long before Irvine Welsh had created the characters of Begbie and Renton but even so, the sight of a group of Hibs fans coming at us was suitably frightening. However, it transpired that the supporters bus for their game at Airdrie hadn’t turned up and they merely wanted advice on how to get to the Peoples Republic on the Plains by alternative means.
Step forward the human Google, aka D. Davidson esq, and the happy Hibees headed off with a comprehensive knowledge of the train times which would ensure their arrival at Broomfield by 3pm….
Next stop Kirkcaldy and a pleasant walk along the esplanade to the bus station before enjoying a picturesque run through the east neuk of Fife, passing through a series of small towns with quaint names such as Coaltown of Balgonie.
Methil, however, was anything but picturesque. Ive never been a great admirer of HRH Prince Philip but his alleged description of the town was bang on the money.
Calling Methil a dump is an insult to dumps the world over and, having arrived there with over an hour to go before hostilities, and being well short of legal drinking age, the only source of amusement was, wait for it, a cafe with a bagatelle. That’s right, a bagatelle. A wooden board with a series of wooden pins where you manually projected a steel ball and waited for it to nestle in one of the areas at the base where numeric stickers confirmed your score.
Don’t knock it however. Bagatelle was probably the forerunner of pinball and, who knows, without it Pete Townshend might never had written Tommy.
In the unlikely event that anyone’s remotely interested in the game itself, it ended in an uninspiring 1-1 draw with most of the action occurring on the unsegregated terracing as either set of fans lobbed bottles and cans at each other in time honoured fashion.
The hostile atmosphere continued in the streets after the game and as the two of us looked for an escape route, we found ourselves face to face with a group of small boys, every one of whom looked to be around seven or eight years old.
One of them, who possessed an angelic-like countenance, stepped forward with a rather unangelic opening gambit of ‘fuck off back tae Glasgow ya cunts’.
We were amazed that such an aggressive and profane salvo could emerge from the mouth of one so young and cherub looking (unless of course, Methil Primary School had introduced the works of D H Lawrence to its curriculum), but we didn’t feel there was any mileage in debating the point and increased our pace a notch to ease clear of these mini gangsters, especially when I saw one of them picking up a discarded half brick from the gutter.
A quick glance over my shoulder and I was met with the sight of the said half brick hurtling towards my head, after which discretion quickly outstripped valour as we broke into a sprint and in fact, legged it all the way to the neighbouring town of Leven before seeking sanctuary in the bus station.
The return journey was uneventful up to a point. That point being our arrival back at Haymarket and finding ourselves with time to spare before catching the Glasgow train.
Never mind, it was August, the sun was shining and the Edinburgh Festival was in full swing so a pleasant evening stroll seemed a good idea.
Bad move. Hearts had been playing Ayr United at home that day and a group of their fans, clearly fortified by some post-match libations in the nearby hostelries, took exception to us invading their turf and we were chased back into the station where we jumped on to a departing train which looked to be heading a in a westerly direction.
Westerly was correct but we hadn’t checked the destination, an error of judgement which only became apparent when the train pulled into some God-forsaken place called Fauldhouse and the driver switched off the engine before heading home at what was clearly the end of his shift.
Not only were we up shit creek but the famous ship creek superstore ‘Paddles R Us’ was closed for the summer.
Dougie scanned the fading numbers on the station’s timetable board and established that the next train to Glasgow was not for another two hours so we trudged off for the proverbial ‘look round’ and decided a drink of beer would improve our jaded demeanour.
In terms of shit-hole towns, Fauldhouse could easily have given Methil a run for its money but we did find a pub that was open.
As stated earlier, we were well below the legal drinking age so we hung around the pub door like a couple of jakeys (ie blending in with the locals) until we managed to convince an old guy to pick us up a couple of cans of Harp lager which, as I recall, retailed at 2s 9d each, thats about 14p for those who may not recall the advent of decimalisation. The good old days.
The cans were drunk, the train arrived and we eventually got home about 10pm at the end of an eventful 14 hour odyssey.
Ive watched countless games of football in eleven countries within three different continents and as the memory fades with age, they all tend to blend into one another but that trip to Methil over 50 years ago is the one where, for reasons which I’m sure are obvious, every single detail remains firmly lodged within my psyche.