One of the lighter sides of following football is some of the humorous remarks from the fans that tend to stick in the memory long after the result has been forgotten. Here are a few examples, some of which I may have related before.
On one of my earliest visits to Hampden Park to see Scotland play England, Stanley Matthews was poised on his toes swaying this way and that with the ball between his feet as the Scottish full back waited to see which way he would move. This seemed to go on for an age until a voice from the terracing was heard to plead “Dae something wi’ it will ye no, I’ll come doon an’ get it masel’ so ah wull”. One afternoon at Cathkin Park, Glasgow, the home of the late lamented Third Lanark an appeal came over the tannoy at half-time requesting the father of a wee boy who had got lost to come round to the stand to collect him. This prompted a Third’s fan to comment “I wish Jimmy Harrower’s faither would come and collect him”, Jimmy wasn’t having one of his better games. When my all time football hero Gordon Smith left Hibs and joined Hearts I was at Tynecastle to see his first game against his former club. At one point he directed a pass through the middle to Willie Bauld which Willie just failed to reach. “Steady Gordon” a Hibs fan shouted “He’s no a Reilly” (ed Arguably the greatest player in the Hibernian Club's history, Lawrie Reilly holds the record for the most international caps won by a player while at Easter Road.) Even the Hearts fans enjoyed that one. When floodlights were introduced the Rangers board were opposed to pylons and mounted lights along the top of the stands which were not all that effective. On one slightly misty Saturday in December a plaintive Glasgow voice was heard saying “See thae lichts, ma Christmas tree has got better lichts than that” Back in the 1950s some supposed cases of smallpox were detected in Scotland which sparked off fears of an epidemic. Around that time a group of us would gather in the evening at Perth Ice Rink to see the local Panthers in action when Ice Hockey was at its height. The main topic of discussion was the afternoon’s football results. One of our number, a keen Rangers fan, had just returned from a match at Ibrox. He was complaining bitterly about an incident when a Hibs player had grabbed Jack Shaw’s jersey and torn the sleeve. Quick as a flash Fay Duigan who was later to marry Frank Christie of East Fife retorted “He was only checking to see if he had been vaccinated.” Frank who was a Scone lad was the source of some of the exchanges that took place on the field. Saints who were in the second division took on East Fife from the top division in a mid-week friendly match at Muirton which Saints won 5 - 0. At one point in the game Saints centre forward Paddy Buckley was heard asking the Fifers’ veteran full back Sammy Stewart “Are we going too fast for you old yin?” On another occasion at Bayview when Hibs were the visitors I noticed an exchange of words between Danny McLennan and Bobby Johnstone as the teams came off the field. Frank told me later that near the end of the match as a Hibs corner kick came over Danny, who could best be described as an uncompromising defender, had elbowed Bobby in the ribs. On extending the hand of friendship when the final whistle blew Danny was not surprisingly rebutted with the comment from the diminutive Johnstone, all of 5ft 3ins in his stocking soles “ I wouldn’t shake hands with you if you were the last man on earth” to which Danny replied “I believe if you had been a bit bigger you would have been a wild so-and-so” (Not his exact words)
Back in the immediate post-war years football grounds were pretty much a male dominated environment. Sitting in the Muirton stand behind me was an older man who had brought his wife to the game. At one point he got into a heated exchange with a fan of the opposing team. Attempting to pour oil on troubled waters his wife admonished him with the words “Be quiet Wullie, dinna start trouble” which met with the reply “Shut up wumman, it’s a fitba’ match”.
As I was nearing the completion of this piece the news came through that St Johnstone had lost six - nil to Celtic at McDiarmid Park. On days like that it’s hard to see the funny side. However I console myself with the following lines which appeared in the Edinburgh Evening Times many years ago under the pen name (excuse the pun) MacNib.
“It’s only a gemme wi’ a ba’ efter a’
which we’ve lost as often as won
So we’re no gaun tae greet
when we meet wi’ defeat
Or allow it to alter our fun”