Briefly outline your football career prior to joining Deveronvale.
Scotland under-18’s schoolboys – final pool of 18 but unfortunately uncapped. Buckie Thistle during 5th & 6th year at school (age 17/18) 1975/76 Ellon United during 1st year at R.G.I.T. (won 2 cups) 1976/77
Which year(s) did you play for Deveronvale? Who signed you for the club, and what attracted you to join ?
Joined Deveronvale for 1977/78 season and left at end of 1979/80 season. Signing was so memorable that I cannot remember who signed me (It was sooo long ago!!!). It must have been Ken Tedcastle although it could have been one of the committee. Johnny Cowie might also have been involved but as I can only ever remember Eric Gault (committee man extraordinaire) driving me to and from training (hadn’t passed test at this point), Johnny might have been involved later on.
What are your fondest memories of your time with the club?
I remember a game at Keith where it was so cold players were pleading to come off and if Keith hadn’t scored just before half-time I’m pretty sure it would have been abandoned. Ian Cormack (Sponge man, etc.) had to cut the laces off some of the players boots as their fingers were too numb. Other players were even worse, I recall (James Pirie) coming round after stepping out of the bath still wondering where he was. Another game against Keith at home. I had just passed my driving test and Keith’s Aberdeen contingent were having a good laugh at my attempts at parallel parking but I had the last laugh as we beat them 1 – 0 with a Jim Alexander penalty . Regarding training the one memory that always stands out was one particular night playing indoor football at Banff Academy. Not surprisingly it was Kevin Bremner and Allan Forbes that clashed. It took the rest of us, probably 8 – 10 guys, to pull them apart. Very risky getting on the wrong side of either but great to have them in your team !! Good friends I made at the Vale include; Grant Smith, Alec Cormack, Johnny Mackie, Johnny Cowie, Jim Alexander, Brian Pratt, Raymond Archibald, etc., etc. It really was a good bunch of guys that were at the Vale at that time. The dressing rooms were a story all to themselves at that time and whether the showers were going to work or not was always a mystery and woe betide anybody who had been subbed and had gone in for an early shower and used up all of the water.
What is the most memorable game(s) you played in for Vale, and why?
Most memorable games were Aberdeenshire (Milk) Cup Final and the replay against Peterhead during the 1978/79 season. A 2 – 2 draw (Kevin Bremner scored both) at Peterhead followed by a 1 – 0 defeat at Banff. Grant Smith told me recently that he missed a penalty during that game which I had totally forgotten about. These games were also memorable for the massive Vale support not only at the home replay but also at the first game in Peterhead. Seemed to be a big occasion at the time with Pipe Bands, etc. before the game which I think was sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board. Other great memories were the local derbies with Buckie Thistle over the festive period especially since I was from Portknockie. Especially of note were a 2 – 2 draw on a frozen Princess Royal – last minute penalty for Vale scored by Grant Smith. Also a 2 – 1 win at very snowy Buckie where I headed the winner. I also recall a 5 – a – side tournament held at the Aviemore Ice Rink (summer of 1979 ?) where we drew with a Celtic team. This was a great couple of days, as was the night in between, and it gave you a great chance for a bit of banter with players from all of the other Highland League teams – pity something along this lines cannot be resurrected. I have just also remembered an evening game against Caley in Inverness where they pummelled us for 90 minutes but we somehow held out for a 1 – 0 victory.
Who were the characters at the club ?
Johnny Mackie – a more excitable, enthusiastic guy you couldn’t meet. Falcy Andrew & Charlie Ferries – I remember Charlie’s story on ‘Mac The Track’ about the frozen diesel incident. But this was only one of the scrapes that these two got into or dreamed up – but always good for a laugh. Player coach Johnny Cowie – Always good for a wee session after the game up at the Banff Springs where Johnny would sit and speak about football for a good 3- 4 hours before we hit the trail back to Buckie with Johnny’s wife, Irene, driving. I remember one New Year time when Johnny gave me a call to come over to his house as a few Vale fans were first-fittin’. I turned up to find a big bus outside his door. When I went into the house there was only three fans there (Stilly, I’m sure was one of them). What happened was that they ordered a taxi but none available, tried a mini-bus but no luck. Finally Bertie, who drove the team bus on a Saturday, offered to drive them up, and off they went sitting up at the back of the bus singing the Vale songs. Committee at that time were ably led by Sandy Gray and have fond memories of them being a very pleasant bunch – not much money on the go at that time and pretty much existing on a shoestring.
Who were the best players you played with at the Vale and why?
Best player was probably Kevin Bremner, as not only was he skilful but very competitive and he would have run through a brick wall if asked. Slightly behind Kevin would have to be Grant Smith, Johnny Mackie, Alec Cormack and big Allan Forbes – all diehard Vale men at that time. Also some younger players who arrived on the scene at that time – Jim Alexander, Jim Pirie & ‘Dinky’ Wilson.
And who were the best players you played against, and why?
It would have to be the Keith back four consisting of ‘Cup-Tie’ Mckay, ‘Dally’s Ba’’ Dalgarno, Eric Wilson & Bruce ‘Skipper’ Martin, ably backed up by goalie – Bobby Gray. Also worthy of note was John Duthie (‘overlapping’ sweeper) of the Broch, the deadly duo of Ray Mackintosh & Billy Urquhart of Caley and the Black brothers at Inverness Thistle – ‘Lofty’ & ‘Titchy’.
What have you done in a football sense since you left the Vale ?
Buckie Thistle 1980/83 Turriff United 1983/88 (Ray Archibald signed me. Also went on to serve under two more ex-Vale players here namely Charlie Ferries (who had to seen to believed when he lost the plot at the half-time team talk) and Jim George. Played a few games for Rothes during this period when Johnny Cowie was manager plus one game for Elgin City.) Deveronside 1988/2002 (Signed here by another Vale legend – Alan Scott. Time here included spells as manager, assistant and helping out Ian Cormack & Mikey Anderson when they were in charge) Cullen 2002/2005 Summer Welfare League
What does a normal Saturday afternoon entail for you these days ?
Normally travelling the countryside, with my Dad, my son – Nicholas and my mate – Alex, following ‘The Jags’ – Buckie Thistle (sorry !!!) – but you did ask. Still obviously keep a look out for the Vale scores every week.