I was involved in quite a serious car crash on a Sunday evening in March 1964, Irene who later became my wife was involved in the crash as were our best friends Dougie Currie and Rhona they also got married. We were out this Sunday having a few drinks at the Wallyford Motel which was one of the in places at the time, everybody used to drink and drive back then. The crash was a very surreal moment we were ready to leave the hotel but something must’ve happened or had been said because when we walked to the car Dougie and Rhona got in the back of the car. We must’ve had a tiff or something, normally Irene and Rhona would’ve been in the back but not on this occasion, I had a new car and it had only done three thousand miles or so. As we headed for home I sped off as usual the only difference being was that Irene was in the front and the others were in the back.
The roundabout was only fifty yards from the Motel and whilst I wouldn’t have picked up full speed I would still be moving fairly quickly. I’ll tell you what I can remember about this incident only It’s been such a long time since it happened, I do know that we were on the A1 and it was a pretty dark evening. The thing that I remember was that the roundabout was illuminated and the road turned sharp left as you left the roundabout, normally if the road was lit up in the evening you could see the other vehicle’s oncoming lights which made you keep within the white lines painted on the centre of the road.
Sadly I never saw any lights of the on-coming traffic, because of this I allowed my car to cross the markings on the middle of the road. Unfortunately for me it was to be a serious mistake and it is my opinion that the oncoming lorry was being driven on to the illuminated roundabout with sidelights only. We crashed headlong into this lorry bouncing of the front wheel, our friends in the back hadn’t been injured quite as bad as we had. Irene had taken quite a bump and she suffered fifty odd stitches in a head wound and some more stitches in her knee, in the process she had flattened the glove compartment as her legs doubled up.
I came of the worst I had twisted the steering wheel with my bare hands and was thrown out of the side door of the car, smashing my face into the side window into the bargain, I was lucky not to lose my eyesight. At one point Irene and I had our coats put over our heads as the paramedics thought that we had both been killed. I remember travelling in the ambulance with Irene up to The Royal Hospital in Edinburgh as we arrived at the Hospital there were lots of newspaper reporters there. I recognised Tommy Walker my manager at Hearts where I played.
I remember the reporters staring at me, they must’ve been rubbing their hands in glee as a scoop looked on the cards. It was when we were being taken up the lift in the hospital where the Doctors and nurses were, when I realised what I had done. It was my fault for causing this horrendous car crash, there are times when you know that life is going to change and that it will be much more difficult.
I was out for a few months and didn’t play for Hearts for a while. I went through many procedures suffering from sciatica which is niggling, the pain is always with you. One of the treatments was at a physio in the West End of Edinburgh, it didn’t cure me or had much of an effect either, it was a metal bed which the patient laid on and was belted up in two places. One under the arms and the other was around the waist, it was motorised and it separated in the middle, this treatment lasted about 20 minutes. Imagine how it moved it felt quite comfortable but unfortunately it didn’t do anything for me, disaster.
The sciatica was really debilitating, I think Mr Walker was going mad and my treatment seemed to becoming more desperate, finally the last straw was the hospital. I had been to the hospital a few times where I had befriended one of the male nurses, this was a good thing as he was able to tell me how my operations had gone on. This particular day I was clothed in the dreaded theatre garb when they wheeled me in for my treatment, what the nurse told me… how my body had been put through it’s paces was spectacular to say the least.
First I had to be sedated, then the doctors started. I was on my back, they proceeded to pull my legs over my shoulders past my ears then they turned me over onto my front where they then pulled my legs backward beyond my ears. It was then that the nurse became agitated when speaking he told me of this huge cracking noise that came from my lower back, he didn’t believe what he’d just seen or heard and what the human body could withstand. Thankfully as a result of this manipulation and during my rumble in the theatre it was to become a success, I’m grateful to those doctors, and thankfully I have never been troubled with sciatica again.
I had quite a few stitches in my eyes and face but Irene and Rhona were treated by a plastic surgeon who made them as beautiful as they’d been before. I had to go back several time to have my stitches out and to remove more of the glass that had been embedded into my forehead from the side window of the car We were all very lucky to survive this spectacular accident and whilst I was recovering, things were to get worse for our family as my brother John who had unimaginable success with Spurs Double Winning Football Team was to be tragically killed by lightning whilst playing golf at the tender age of 27 year old.
Fate had played a terrible part in our life, what next!