OUR FAMOUS GRADE A-LISTED STAND
DESIGNED BY THE GREAT ARCHITECT PETER WOMERSLEY
"Stand Now, Stand Forever"
Club Secretary Graeme McIver takes a look back through the mists of time at the match arranged against East Fife in 1964 to celebrate the opening of the Stand here at Netherdale.
The Opening of The Stand – Gala Fairydean v East Fife 21/11/64
You were spoilt for choice if you were looking for entertainment in Galashiels in November 1964. “Elvis is Back in Kissing Cousins” stated the posters outside the Pavilion Cinema whilst just up the street, in Gala’s second Picture House, JB Milne’s Capitol Cinema had the more sedate Walt Disney flick, “The Three Lives of Thomasina” starring Susan Hampshire. If children’s films or rock and roll musicals weren’t your thing then you could watch Anthony Quinn and Anna Magnanni in “Wild is the Wind” (showing for one day only) or Ray Milland in “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes.” Meanwhile, at the Empire Palais, The Kwintones, (Top of the Scottish Beat) were preparing for another “wow night” at the Galae Palais whilst the Waverly Castle Hotel in Melrose you were invited to “Come Dancing” on a Saturday Night and win a table for the “Xmas Dinner Dance and Cabaret.”
It was down at Netherdale however that the entertainment was at its best. The successful Gala Fairydean team of the era, managed by former Hearts favourite Bobby Kirk went head to head with Jimmy Bonthrone’s East Fife. In a “Glamour Friendly” arranged to celebrate the opening of the club’s new stand.
The Gala Fairydean FC Match Programme for the match on 21st November 1964 stated;
“We are indeed pleased to extend a very warm welcome to our guests this afternoon. This is the first time they have played in Gala and they have honoured us by sending down their strongest team. Everyone who follows the game knows the fighting qualities of the men from Methil, in fact they have a record that only very few clubs can equal…Jimmy Bonthrone’s boys will, I am sure, put on a very delightful display.”
The Fifers had become the first Scottish Club to win the League Cup three times in 1948, 1950 and 1954. They also won the Scottish Cup in 1938 and presented a considerable challenge to the Braw Lads of Gala.
The Border Telegraph on the 17th November reported.
“A notable event in the history of Gala Fairydean Football Club is to take place on Saturday when the new grandstand and pavilion at Netherdale is to be officially opened….The design of the stand….is modern and incorporates two turnstile houses at each end, one for admission to the ground and the other to the stand. The interior of the building provides accommodation for four teams. The Fairydean and their visitors will each have a changing room adjacent to showers and plunge baths and each room is equipped with twelve lockers for the players’ personal belongings. The other two dressing rooms will be used by Gala Rovers when they are using the pitch. Other accommodation includes a room for the referee, a trainer’s room and a club room measuring 30 feet by 15 feet with glass walls on two sides overlooking the playing area and the rear of the stand.”
Just a few years earlier, the Gala men had embarked on a decade of unprecedented success. The East of Scotland League title was won in 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1968. The Scottish Qualifying Cup (South) occupied the trophy cabinet at Netherdale in 1961, 1965 and 1966 whilst the King Cup was won on 4 occasions during the 1960’s. The club had big plans to try and enter the Scottish Football leagues and the ambitious committee built the stand in order to help this progression.
The Border Telegraph on 24th November remarked.
“Saturday was a joy day for Gala Fairydean Football Club for it marked the completion of several years of hard work in raising funds for the erection of a new grandstand at Netherdale…The stand was officially opened by Mr A. Wilson Strachan, chairman of Heart of Midlothian F.C and treasurer of the Scottish Football Association who was introduced by Mr T. Adams, chairman of Gala Fairydean F.C.”
The match resulted in a famous 4-2 victory for the Fairydean with the Border Telegraph reporting;
“Congratulations are extended to Gala Fairydean for what was without doubt their finest victory for several years…a magnificent achievement and it was no wonder the large crowd saluted their heroes at the end of what had been a rip-roaring match pulsated with excitement...Not even the most optimistic supporter could have expected such a fitting result. Every player gave of his best and although perhaps lacking the polish of their opponents it was their opportunism that led them to success.”
The Fairydean had fallen behind to a Stewart goal on 8 minutes before Peacock of Gala headed an equaliser. The Fifers re-took the lead when outside –left Waddell shot past an unsighted Duncan in the home goal. The game was turned on its head in a two minute spell just before half time.
The Border Telegraph records
“First Peacock after a brilliantly engineered move between Cuthbert, Newman and Cornwall, headed past Paul. Two minutes later Cuthbert put the home team ahead with a really cheeky goal. East Fife left-back threw the ball into Paul but Cuthbert intercepted, flicked the ball over Paul’s head, rounded the goalkeeper and swept the ball into the net. A goal ten minutes after the interval sealed the match for Fairydean. From 15 yards outside the penalty area, Cuthbert unleashed a terrific shot which flew past Paul. This saw the dominance of the proceedings by Gala Fairydean who although had pressed in the closing stages held on for a magnificent victory.”
Gala Fairydean: Duncan, Kirk, Peden. Lyall, Ross, McGuire. Wyles, Cornwall, Peacock, Cuthbert, Newman.
East Fife: Paul, Stirrat, Smith. Walker, Young, Donnelly. Rodger, Dewar, Christie, Stewart, Waddell.
Referee. Mr A Croerman (Edinburgh)
A film of the match including an interview with chairman Mr Tommy Adams was shown on Border Television’s “Time out of Doors” that was screened the following Wednesday. Just weeks earlier the TV crews had been in Gala filming the Queen Mother opening the newly completed Galashiels Academy as the town underwent a series of changes and modernisations.
Following the match, the company were the guests of Gala Fairydean Football Club at a tea in the Abbotsford Arms Hotel. Mr. T. Adams presided and introduced several speakers. Mr Wilson Strachan said, “that it was a pleasure to come to the East of Scotland to a football match where supporters enjoyed a match. “I’m sorry to say this” continued Mr Strachan, “but when I go down to Wembley to the Scotland v England internationals, the conduct of some Scottish fans is quite disgraceful.” Chairman of East Fife, Dr Pirie congratulated the Gala Fairydean club and their committee on their wonderful stand and stated that he hoped more supporters would now take an interest in the game. In commenting on the financial success of the Fairydean Club, Dr Pirie remarked that he wished they possessed a financial wizard at Methil. Dr Pirie thanked the club for the wonderful hospitality which they did not receive from even First Division clubs. A vote of thanks was accorded at the end of the function by Secretary of Gala Fairydean FC Mr I Cook.
The price of a beer for the company would likely have set them back 1/8d (£0.08) whilst a gallon of petrol for the trip back up to Fife cost just under 5 shillings. Harold Wilson had one month earlier replaced Sir Alec Douglas-Home as Prime Minister in the October General Election and the Beatles were storming the charts both sides of the Atlantic. You could pick up a Vauxhall Victor Super for £280 at Thomas Fairgrieve and Son Ltd of Wilderhaugh and Stow whilst if you asked for a demonstration of the Hoover Keymatic washing machine at the Galashiels United Co-operative Society Furnishing Emporium in Channel Street you immediately qualified for an unspecified free gift. Underage drinkers were getting into trouble in Selkirk Sheriff Court (some things never change) and The Langlee Community Association was holding a Sale of Work (in aid of the building development fund) in The Town Hall, Galashiels.
The Fairydean went onto complete the season as League Champions and Scottish Qualifying Cup (South) winners whilst East Fife finished fourth in The Scottish Second Division. The Fifers manager Jimmy Bonthorne went onto have success as Assistant Manager at Aberdeen when the won the Cup in 1970 and then succeeded Eddie Turnbull as Dons manager between 1971 and 1975 winning the Drybrough Cup and giving Willie Miller his debut. In 1994, Sir Alex Ferguson brought his Manchester United side north to play in a Testimonial Match for his friend Jimmy Bonthorne at Bayview where 5,000 spectators saw a young David Beckham score twice.