I have never told this story before but because of a posting on “Facebook” by my nephew “Eddie” it made me realise that it might be a good time to tell the tale and repent.
I lost my position and Job at the Hearts because of my love for my wife Irene my Mum and family. The way that I did it was unusual and nonsensical all that I needed to do was drive my Mum and Irene up to Tranent and come back on my own but that would’ve been too simple life was complicated then.
From the age of about three I knew that I was going to be linked to Irene because we were both born in Links Street Musselburgh so it was a given that I would become friendly with her family who were known as the Kerr’s. Irene lived on the posh side of the street they had a nice little privately owned house at the top of Links Street whereas we lived in a rented house on the poor side.
Irene’s Dad was in the Merchant Navy and was a Petty Officer who had enlisted just like many others had done in an effort to help in the second World War. He was a good man in fact they were all very nice and as “In-Laws” I considered myself to be lucky as I thought that they were fabulous people.
I tried many times to be in Irene’s life but being a shy young and aggressive boy I didn’t understand how to approach the female species. It meant that I had a lot of growing up to do! We were always around each other as friends and at the local High School but as boyfriend or girlfriend it wasn’t to be. By the age of twelve we had moved to a new council house in Delta Crescent and it was from that address that the huge mistake happened.
I was approximately twenty three or four and had been in the Army doing my National Service. I had been posted to places like Berwick, Berlin, Aden during my military service I played football for the BAOR, Kenya Nat Service. I also played for the Brit Army as did my brother John who was a star player for the famous double winning Spurs side. Irene and I had gone our separate ways building our own lives and careers I had by this time become a Joiner to trade spending twelve month at The Edinburgh School of Building and a five year apprenticeship. I was a Professional footballer like my older brothers John and Eddie, (three brothers from one household is some feat). I was playing at centre forward for none other than the famous Heart of Midlothian. One of the two professional clubs in Edinburgh only six miles from my home town of Musselburgh who incidentally “was a burgh before Edinburgh was named” a statement often spoken by a true Musselburgh man who whenever he was in doubt of his heritage came up with comments like these!
I was scoring lots of goals for Hearts at that time and I still have a few records to show for it everything can be verified from the statisticians at Tynecastle if people disbelieve me. One day I played at Easter Road against the Hibs on New Years day, it was to be my last derby.
Here is my side of the story, time has not softened the pain that I have been through or felt over the years. On many occasions when training with my various clubs I was often told to head the ball into the ground as this was the preferred way for a coach to teach his student. This was something that I never did as I was very good at heading the ball and only decided what to do as the ball or incident arrived. It is at this moment my Mother and Irene who was to become my wife are brought into the equation.
Mum liked a drink but It’s fair to say that she wasn’t the only one especially as it happened to be New Years Eve. In her wisdom she thought that it would be a good idea to go up to my eldest brothers house. I can absolutely state that my New Years day match against Hibs at Easter Road was never ever considered as an important event or enter our conversations with Irene or my Mum. All my dear Mum could think about was a lift to Tranent where my brother lived and have some fun!
I only wish that I had had the courage to leave the girls to it although this is a light hearted story and I could’ve taken the girls to the party and left them there then picked them up later on but that would’ve been the easy thing to say or do…. circumstances prevailed.
As stated Irene and I had gone our separate ways but it was at this time that we had become an item and I wasn’t going to miss being in her life again. Whilst I was hesitant about going to my big brothers party and with my New Years Day match being paramount in my mind. I had good intentions but found out that if you drink enough Shandy you can be as inebriated as anyone! Tommy Walker was my manager at Tynecastle and before the Derby at Easter Road I found him standing closer to me than he had ever done before this wasn’t the best thing that had ever happened to me. I had the distinct impression that he was checking out my breath for the dreaded alcohol, I felt fine but I may have smelt of beer.
I had made a very grave mistake one that has haunted me every day since because football was my life, I considered that I was lucky to play for “The Hearts” and although I could’ve refused to go out that New Years Eve but because I wanted to be with Irene I paid the price. My brother Edwins brother in law Richard was one of the hosts and whilst he can’t blame him for my predicament he had looked after me so well that night that he must be congratulated for his hospitality. It’s a long time since that incident cost me my place with The Hearts but no matter how far back it is there is not a day goes by that I don’t think about that fateful night my regret is forever with me. My lack of professionalism that New Years Eve was the most stupid thing that I have ever done.
Which brings me on to my nephews post on “Facebook” which is about tickets for the very same fixture many many years later it must be said!
Having passed the managers stringent and peculiar tests I had been given the all clear to play but unfortunately for the Hearts and I. I happened to miss a golden chance, it was a header that flew over the bar I’m sure that everyone thought that it had gone straight over the bar but in fact I headed the ball into the ground as the coaches had been trying to teach me. The reason for it flying over the bar was that the pitch was ice bound as the cross came over from Chris Shevlane (who incidentally had played for the Hibs too) I had lots of time to think about what to do with this cross, sadly for me I made the wrong decision and fate played it’s part!
That’s what happened the truth is out! I can’t blame Tommy Walker or Johnny Harvey as they had their job to do. I wish that they had given me the benefit of the doubt though but if I had my time again…. (1.) I would’ve nodded the ball into the corner of the net (2.) I would’ve run Irene and my Mum up to my brothers house and drove home and picked the two of them up later. If I had done those two things maybe! just maybe! I would have finished my career at the Hearts as a “Legend” and not a “Leg End” one of life’s experiences that I have regretted all my days !!!!