The Kick-About’s!

As young boys we used to play our football mostly on the links near the sea-side at the bottom of links Street in Musselburgh and sometimes on a pitch by the beach very close to Musselburgh Race-Course. I was the youngest and had to pester the other lads to let me play, I loved playing with them.

A lot of the lads who played in these “kick-a bouts” went onto become professional footballers – Bert Slater, Falkirk and Scotland goalkeeper was one.  Years later I played against Bert at Tynecastle for Hearts when he was playing for Falkirk. During the game an opportunity arose for me to be, shall we say, competitive towards Bert – the ball was flying through the air heading towards Bert in the Falkirk goal. I ran aggressively towards Bert, (I could see it in my mind), I was about to knock him into the back of the net when he suddenly dropped down to the ground on the goal-line. The ball was safely in Bert’s arms and T.W was the “mug” who ended up in the net where Bert should’ve been, it was brilliant goalkeeping.

Then there was the inimitable Jock Wallace, a good solid player who became one of the great Scottish managers. Jock managed Rangers FC over two spells winning the European cup winners’ cup, Scottish cup and Scottish league titles, what a career.

There was also Geordie Reid a right winger for Airdrie, George and Grant Malcolm two brothers who both played for Raith Rovers and then the three Whites. There were a lot of other lads that were knocking on the door of professional football; unfortunately their names escape my memory, (this is considered normal for someone my age). Not a bad lot to come out of one small area.

Bothers V Brother

At the beginning of our careers we were fortunate to play in the same match (actually I was on the bench watching, substitutes weren’t allowed in those days).

Edwin and John were playing for Falkirk against my team Raith Rovers. Falkirk needed to win to avoid relegation. There was some talk of the match being fixed in Falkirk’s favour, so when Edwin (who played centre forward, was exceptionally quick and was a natural finisher) scored twice, the crowd believing that Edwin had been allowed to score vented their anger at Edwin and gave him some stick. In the same match John had a penalty for Falkirk and missed, striking the crossbar so hard it nearly rebounded back up the pitch to the half-way line. Rumour had it that the Raith goal-keeper Charlie Drummond told John to hit it to his right and he would dive the other way. John thought Charlie was having him on so he just blasted it, Charlie probably was. If I remember right, Falkirk won the match 3-1 and stayed up, though I do stand to be corrected.

John, Edwin and Me playing for Musselburgh Union

I remember a game John and I played in for Musselburgh Union (a top junior, under 21 Scottish team and a great club to learn your trade).

I was 16 and John nearly 19, we were playing against local rivals Bonnyrig Rose, we beat them quite easily that day. John was magic and I did ok too. I scored 5 and I think John set every goal up for me. The away fans called me a big headed xxxxxxx, a compliment really. Up ‘The Honest Toun’.

The season before, older brother Eddie played for the Union alongside the one and only Alec Young, yes “The Golden Vision” Hearts and Everton, what a player. Many years later in 2011, Edwin and I were invited to the Wullie Bauld Memorial dinner where we again met Alec Young. Alec saw us coming through the door and greeted us with “The Whites”.  I have to say I was proud that he had remembered us.

I suppose I shouldn’t have really been surprised, Edwin is some man; he certainly would be hard to forget. What a character and what a great brother he is. I have some special tales to tell about Edwin and will be doing so in the near future.  As a footballer Edwin never fulfilled the true potential he had – he was quick, good in the air and hardly ever put a ball over the bar. Although he did play professionally for a period, he should have had a much longer career than he did. Maybe he didn’t like the limelight and preferred doing a traditional job; I’m not sure; all I know is that Edwin has a great family and has had a wonderful life. For me, football is the best job in the world, I was lucky to play for as long as I did and although I am proud to tell everyone that I was a “chippy”, I’m glad I made a career out of football.

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