Briefly outline your football career prior to joining Deveronvale.
I joined the Vale straight from school where I played for the very successful Academy team that dominated the league and cups from 88-94. I also played for Deveronside U18 and I think we were the first ‘Side youth team to win the Aberdeen City League but Brian Stewart (another ex Vale Manager) who was our manager at the time might know more about the facts of that one. I also played the odd game for Turriff BC as well as North of Scotland regional team and trained with the Scottish Schoolboys U18 team down at Largs. I also managed to fit in a season with Portsoy on a Sunday –back in those days I was playing twice on a Saturday and once on a Sunday – might explain why my knees are hammered now!
Which year(s) did you play for Deveronvale? Who signed you for the club, and what attracted you to join ?
I was signed for the Vale by Kevin Bremner in 94 along with a few other lads from the successful Side U18 team – Veitchy, Rattray, Dave Bremner to name a few. Growing up in Macduff as a local lad you always wanted to play for the Vale – there is always something special about playing for your local team where all your mates and family are fans and the club was/is run like a big family so when Kevin asked me to sign it was a no brainer and I was proud to have been a part of it.
What are your fondest memories of your time with the club?
I always used to enjoy the trips up for games and training with Dippy and the rest of the Dundee mob – I was at Dundee University when I signed for the Vale and had many a memorable journey in Dippy’s Mini Maestro. By the time you reached Dundee our feet were on fire because of how low we were to the tarmac! There was one Wednesday night when we were heading up to training in Aberdeen – as always myself and the Dipper were ready dressed for the occasion shorts etc and I even had my moldys on. All of a sudden we saw the blue flashers and were pulled over – for once Dippy wasn’t speeding so we thought maybe a back light was out. PC plod made his way to the window and explained that he was part of “Operation Phoenix” looking for gangs who were stealing stuff in Dundee and flogging it in Aberdeen – fair enough Dippy does look dodgy – he then asked us to get out of the car so he could search it and then proceeded to ask us what our business was in Aberdeen. Now I am not in any way saying that Her Majesty’s finest are in anyway thick – but if we were looking to burgle a house I wouldn’t be doing it in shorts and football boots! Then there was the time that Dippy crashed his car and had to hire one to take us up the road which he then proceeded to crash as well! Don’t think he had his best game that day. Some of the nights out were legendary as well – I remember the night of the draw for the next round of the Scottish cup – we had just drawn with Keith and had to replay but we were keen to see who we would get if we beat them. I remember being in the old front bar of the Seafield – Billy Anderson was running it at the time and it felt like the entire place was overrun with Vale players and supporters – the place was heaving. We were all watching the draw on a wee TV that was attached to the wall and I remember standing on the pool table with one of my mates – Gogs McKay as ourselves and Keith’s names were pulled out for a home draw – playing Rangers! The next thing I remember is being on the floor in a heap with the sound of “Boom, Boom, Boom let me hear you say Vale” blasting from the loud speakers. Only problem is we got beat by Keith in the replay. Sods Law!
What is the most memorable game(s) you played in for Vale, and why?
A couple of games stick out for me. My debut for the Vale was pretty memorable – I was on the bench (no surprise there although Kevin did mention later that if I hadn’t been going away on holiday for the next game I would have started in a young central defence with Rattray) for the first game of the 94 season against Lossie at PRP. I was given the shout to replace Dippy midway through the second half in left midfield would you believe. We were trailing by a goal heading towards the final whistle when we were awarded a pen. Billy Sutherland spotted the ball and stepped up only to see the Lossie keeper save it. Luckily for me the ball was parried towards me and I used my legendary searing pace over two meters to get to the ball first. I then bamboozled the oncoming Lossie keeper by sclafing the ball beautifully off my studs and over the line (it didn’t hit the net because it didn’t have the legs to!) I will always remember the crowd’s reaction as I went to celebrate with them throwing high fives around with Dougal and his mum! I asked Mr B. after the game if I was the youngest debutante to score for the Vale (17) but after a quick check in one of his Vale bibles he informed me that the current boss still holds that title? (Might need to check that one Mr B.) Another game that sticks out for me was the last league game we played before our Scottish cup game against Albion. It was a midweek game against Fort William and because we were playing Albion Rovers on the next again Saturday the legendary sports team from “North Tonight” filmed the game. I was on the bench (anyone see a pattern here) and Auld Dod Simmers was in charge of the team for the night – Allan Scott the manager was away on a scouting mission. We were cruising at the time – I think 3-1 up and I gave Dod a wee nudge and asked if he fancied throwing me on up front. To my surprise he said why not (something tells me it wouldn’t have happened if Alan was there!) Everything was in place – a decent amount of time on the pitch, up front and against a team that hadn’t really turned up never mind it was in front of the cameras! Lo and behold did Dippy not find me with a wee floated cross from the left; it was slightly behind me so I swiveled like a submarine and fired it into the opposite corner! I gave it the old “lie on your back with your arms in the air” celebration as Ali Boo, Scottie and young Dod piled on. It was the highlight of that news report apart from Captain Rattray’s post match interview – if anyone has a copy of that let me know! And of course the Albion Rovers match will stick in everyone’s mind – the atmosphere from start to finish was amazing – from going down on the Friday night to the night out with the supporters in Dundee. The fans were amazing – the usual suspects, Juice, Mary, Trevor and the rest dressed up as god only knows what and out singing a poor home support. The game itself was on a knife edge and I think big Ian in goal kept us in it with a couple of good saves – Big Heggie was battering through everyone – face first most of the time – and Alan even gave me the last 5mins to enjoy the atmosphere even more. A superb experience!
Who were the characters at the club ?
I don’t think there was anyone who wasn’t a character to be honest there are so many I could mention: Players Bradley Kerr - The most laid back man on the planet. Rico Masson – The second most laid back man on the planet. Big Heggie – The most handsome man on the planet! Fans Mary – Never short of a word or two – just said so fast you struggled to understand! Sandy Bremner – Full of good advice that generally boiled down to “kick the B******d! Other notable mentions have to go to: Great Auntie Maureen – Never tire of a bit o broth. Bingo, Dav and Alan Stille – stalwarts. Dod Simmers – don’t mess! Faither – always had your pants ready! And of course Mr B – Legend!
Who were the best players you played with at the Vale and why?
Again a few too many but here goes: Dippy – anyone who can batter up and down the left hand side like he has done for that many years has to be right up there – not only because he was my travel buddy but the quality was plain to see – reminds me of Ryan Giggs (except maybe what he gets up to in his spare time!) Bradley Kerr – Another of the Dundee contingent who had an eye for a pass and always had time on the ball. Paul Bridgeford – Another midfield maestro. Stevie Rattray – My old defending buddy – sharp, quick to spot danger if a wee bit limp in the tackle but could read the game well. Got to mention Nige here as well – I didn’t play with him at the Vale but did for Turriff United and you can put him in the same category as Dippy (plus the Giggs spare time bit!)
And who were the best players you played against, and why?
Anyone with a bit of pace really! I always found the Broch lads difficult to play against – Mike Stephen in particular. I always thought Deke Milne was a quality player having played with and against him and glad to see he joined the Vale a few seasons ago. Big Doug Rougvie at Huntly was hard as nails – you knew it when you went in for a 50 -50 with him!
What have you done in a football sense since you left the Vale ?
Played for Turriff Utd for a couple of seasons where I joined Billy Anderson. Then moved around down in England quite a bit - Newcastle for a couple of years where I played a couple of games for Gateshead. I then moved to Manchester for Five years and again played the odd junior game here and there as well as Sunday League where we played against a team that contained Paul Heaton of Beautiful South fame no less. He was poor and I made sure I knobbled him! Now strictly Fives and Sevens!
What does a normal Saturday afternoon entail for you these days ?
Usually head to the Gym and try and keep up some fitness – me and my wife run 10ks when we can – just completed the Aberdeen 10k in fact – clocked around 55mins which I am happy enough about considering I am still a big lad! The odd game of Golf – then Soccer Saturday