Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Celtic Footbal Club and Frank Cairney enters my life.

I played in Aviemore with the other kids down on Aviemore playing field, and at Aviemore primary school then Kingussie secondary school, eventually then for Aviemore Thistle in the Strathspey Welfare League.
I was 15 when I turned out in goal for Thistle for the first time, very exciting, I remember the vivid tangerine strips very clearly. I think we played Carrbridge at Carrbridge. I took over from Les Finlay who had packed it in.
Alistair Stirling an extremely energetic and committed local football fanatic with links to Celtic Boys Club ( CBC ) noticed me and a few others and played us against the CBC in a friendly out at Boat of Garten near Aviemore, great game great buzz.
Alistair did/does an awful lot for football in Aviemore and surrounding district, football was in his blood in a profound way and he promoted it tirelessly.
Apart from Alistair, I can only remember 2 players who turned out that day, a friend from Aviemore - Robbie Fraser ( R. Midfield ) and Bobby Nield ( defence ) from Kingussie.
Frank Cairney managed the CBC that day, this was the first time I had clapped eyes on him and I remember thinking he was virtually a clone of Jock Stein (my opinion)
Cairney and the CBC made their base up at Coylumbridge Hotel where Alistair Stirling worked as a musician.
Coylumbridge hotel had a bit of history where Celtic were concerned, EX and current Celtic players had stayed their. I remember being gobsmacked one day when Jimmy Johnstone walked in through the front door as I was waiting with some others for one of Alistairs five-a-side match's to start. Tommy Burns also played in one or two these five-a-sides that i remember.
Fairly soon after that Robbie Fraser, Mikie Dixon ( both from Aviemore) and myself were invited to Barrowfield ( Celtic training ground and social club) for a trial. Robbie and myself were asked back and fairly soon both of us turned out in the hoops for a try out, but not in the same teams ( I am a year older than Robbie ) and at different times.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


My recollections will be chronologically messy and even out of synch but hopefully as I tell my story I may be able to tighten up on the wheres and whens of what happened to me. Maybe you can help?
All the events, ( apart from the Cairney / Torbett court case of a few years back) occurred between 1974 and 1976 when I was 16 or 17 years of age.
Very exciting times very disturbing times, still with me 34 years later despite my best efforts to blot some of them out.
The recollections come to me almost exclusively at night when I am trying to settle down to sleep. My mind races over the could have's, should have's and maybes, emotions moving rapidly from anger, disgust, fear and pride or a combination of them all. All the old faces (now significantly dimmed) flash across my mind, as I try to make sense of events.
This space is where these memories will spill out and hopefully serve as a warning to young people who unwittingly find themselves in vulnerable situations, but perhaps most of all to the parents / guardians of young people to watch out for their offspring, and to protect them from the things that happened to me and other youngsters at the hands of Frank Cairney and his reptilian ilk.