My first match at Starks Park for Raith was against Celtic, August 1958. I’m not totally sure of the exact date but it’s near enough, I was 19 year old and raring to go, the great Celtic fielded a strong team. I was so excited about playing my first game against the famous “HOOPS”, the team from Glasgow had many famous players none other than the centre half, the great Bobby Evans their captain and a Scottish International to boot.
The ref got his knickers in twist pretty early on in the game and booked me for allegedly fouling our dear “Bobby”. To be fair to the referee he, Mr Bissett had a good game, he was from Edinburgh and very good at his job. He was very small like a “little Hitler”, I’m pretty sure that title would not be too far away from describing him perfectly to be precise.
Bobby Evans got me booked I’m sure of that. What happened during the game happens quite a lot and it still happens to this day again and again. I happened to clip his heel accidentally, I might add when I was running behind and across his line. He went down as though he’d been shot, in fact the way he went down…. I was sure that I had shot him.
The top and bottom of it was that Mr Bissett thought that it was a foul, and as we know, the referee is always right! Funnily enough during yesterdays Carling Cup Final between Cardiff and Liverpool the referee gave a foul for the same thing. It’s some fifty odd years since that match and “alleged foul”, maybe It’s a bit belated but I shall have to apologies for my actions!.
Bobby Evans was a very unusual centre half he was definitely great but very different. In my opinion he always appeared to be diving to head the ball unlike other centre-half’s who would command their area. Either way my attitude and style was all action, it made no difference to me whether they commanded or dived as competition was my genre. They had to play every ball, if they were reluctant or unsure then that round bouncy leathery thing was mine. Bobby Evans has a true legacy there’s no doubt about that, it was just the beginning. I think the match ended up in a draw which I stand to be corrected and of-course T. Ws name made the referees book.
After the final whistle all the Celtic players were down at the bottom end of Starks Park in the goalmouth. I found out later that they were looking for a gold filling that had been knocked out of someone’s mouth during the game. I think it was Neilly Mochan who had had the collision with a certain Raith player, the Celtic players looked pretty annoyed at me I wonder why. it spoke volumes about the culprit.
I think I can remember the teams that played that day Celtic; Haffey, McNeil, Mochan, McKay, Evans, Peacock, McVitie, Conway, Divers, Auld.. Raith Rovers; Drummond, Polland, MacFarlane, Young, McNaught, Leigh, Kerray, Conn, White, McKniven, Urquhart.
To play in that team against the mighty Hoops was really fantastic, Charlie Drummond GK, Willie Poland FB, I later played with Willie P at Hearts, Willie Mcfarlane FB came from Hibs, Andy Young, Willie McNaught and Andy Leigh half-back line, the bedrock of our team a fabulous trio, Jim Kerray Winger, Alfie Conn I.F. Ex Hearts a great Pro, then Johnny Urquhart Winger. I could go on and on about these Lads, wonderful days and times… I was privileged indeed.