Musselburgh, the place where it all began!

14 Links Street Musselburgh, a two bedroom ground floor terraced house with an outside toilet, home sweet home! I remember slipping out of the bedroom window in the pouring rain at night and then back into bed where I slept with my brother John. It wasn’t the best in the world but it was the “Whitehouse”, it shaped our destiny. It was all we knew.

We had a tough but loving upbringing. Three ‘wild’ young boys and a little sister being brought up by great parents and with the help of our close family. We lived there until I was 12, before moving to Delta Crescent on the Wimpies council estate in the early 1950’s.

I wasn’t happy about moving to Delta Crescent, it meant that we were leaving all of our friends who we’d grown up with, not to mention Irene, the one I had a soft spot for. Irene later became my dear wife. Born in Links Street too, Irene lived near the top, on the posh side of  the street. Over the next 20 odd years, I chased Irene relentlessly, only managing to catch her, (at long last), whilst playing for the Jam-Tarts (Heart Of Midlothian). I’ve let Irene down a couple of times in my life, thankfully, she’s forgiven me. We’ve had a great life together. I’ve played my part I think, but everything is down to Irene, ask anyone, they’ll tell you. A truly wonderful person, wife, mother and friend.

My father Eddie, reputed by some of the old ‘worthies’, was a brilliant footballer, I think he must’ve been ill as a lad, because he played so infrequently. Most of his working life was spent as a railway clerk. Anne my mother was from Hawick, she was a brave young woman, single-minded, and a real character. When she wasn’t looking after the boys from hell, she worked as a school dinner lady, she also waited on in her spare time. My parents met in Hawick when my father used to travel from Musselburgh with a group of his mates to attend the weekly Music and Dance Society. Hawick was a magnet for the Musselburgh boys. I think the fact that the women outnumbered the men by 7 to 1 had something to do with it, now there’s a stat. I believe that it’s the same today, a true story!

The Andersons (my mothers side from Hawick) were great, down to earth and fun loving people. We spent many of our school holidays with our Grandparents at Ramsay Rd in Hawick. I remember we could watch the steam train on it’s way to Carlisle from our Grandparents house window, a truly awesome sight. We all have great memories of our time in Hawick and over the coming few months I’ll tell you a few stories about the Andersons from Hawick.

My father died when he was just 35 year’s old. He suffered from a heart condition, which if he were living today, would be easily treatable. I am proof in case, as I myself suffered a heart attack in August 2010 at 71 and was fortunate enough to have had the necessary treatment. To date I feel fine and hope to keep going for a few more years yet. I was told that my illness was hereditary, but having played professional football for 11 or 12 years, it somehow seemed strange to me, however I bow to medical science and accept their conclusions.

I remember the day that we were told that our Father had died, it was 1945, Edwin would be 9, John 7, I was 5 and little sister Janette 3. We were at our Auntie’s, Cathy and Maggie’s home in Cairds Rd, Fisherow, Musselburgh (my fathers sisters) and Auntie Cathy had chosen to tell us.

I can only assume that the  reason for us being at the house that day was because our father was very ill. The four of us were in the hallway when Auntie Cathy told us. It was surreal for me, I had a feeling of what she was about to tell us. Don’t ask me how I knew, I just did. Maybe my older brother’s Edwin and John knew too. We’ve never spoken about it, so I can’t say if the boy’s had the same feelings as I did.  All the family were heartbroken and his passing left me sad and insecure. I hadn’t a Father any more and it made me feel different from the other children. I remember being scared at primary school, it was as though I was kind of on my own. No one ever tried to make me feel like I did, I just had those feelings.

When our father was on his death-bed, his good friend Wullie Gibson was with him and he asked him if he would make the three of us joiners. Wullie being his best pal agreed and was true to his word. Both John and I did our apprenticeships at Wullies firm “Gibson and Milne Ltd”. Older brother Eddie, went his own way, joining Wimpies, where he also did his 5 year apprenticeship. In essence we all became qualified joiners. I want to acknowledge Wullie Gibson for what he did for us all, a huge man, big in many ways, (Thanks Boss). I don’t know how often and proud I have been over the years to say that I was a joiner by trade. Thanks to our father too, thinking about our welfare before his – A hero!

There are so many tales and memories to share, some that are humdrum and others that will maybe entertain. I will attempt to remember as honestly and accurately as possible. One such tale is Uncle Jack, mums brother from Hawick, arriving in our house on his way back from the 2nd world war. I was born in 1939 and a toddler at the time. I can remember playing with his army rifle and it sparked when I pulled the trigger – was it the gunpowder or flint or my imagination?

After the war, Uncle Jack began playing Rugby Union for Hawick and was subsequently picked for Scotland. He later turned professional for Huddersfield Rugby League Club. He was a great player for them too, winning the league title and going onto play for Great Britain. Uncle Jack was also a professional sprinter, running in the Sports Final at Powderhall, truly remarkable. Unfortunately, his achievements were never spoken about in Hawick, as it was considered to be a “no no”if you turned Pro. It was deemed unthinkable for people in Hawick to get paid for playing sport, however we are all very proud of uncle Jack, then and now, our relatives in Hawick are a pretty special bunch.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read a bit of my story – see you in the next post, or should that be, ‘see you at the far post’.


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