He was the stooge in the classic Laurel and Hardy films and popularised the expression ‘D’oh!’ long before it was made famous by Homer Simpson.
But James Finlayson, a Hollywood screen legend born in Larbert, played perhaps his most surprising role on Saturday when a giant banner of him was unveiled during the Scottish Cup final between Falkirk and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
We had done our research - we knew Finlayson was from Larbert, so Falkirk kind of became our second teamJeff Roe, Sons of Finlay member
The black and white image showed Finlayson, who died in 1953 aged 66, in his classic comedy pose with trademark bushy moustache.
It prompted more than a few quizzical looks from Bairns fans too young to remember the days when Laurel and Hardy films were still regularly broadcast on TV - but older supporters were delighted that a Falkirk district star was present to support Peter Houston’s side.
After an appeal on social media, The Falkirk Herald can reveal the banner was the work of a group of Laurel and Hardy fans from Cheshire - who call themselves the Sons of Finlay.
The pals from Winsford decided to travel north to lend their support to Falkirk after Liverpool failed to reach the FA Cup final.
“We had done our research - we knew Finlayson was from Larbert, so Falkirk kind of became our second team,” said Sons of Finlay member Jeff Roe (46), who was at Hampden with fellow ‘Finlayites’ Keo Martin, Anthony Sloane, Paul ‘Jinxy’ Grogan, Ian Dunderdale and brother Cliff.
“A few of us are Liverpool fans, and we all went down to Wembley to watch the semi-final against Aston Villa and had a bad feeling about it. After we lost, we decided we would make the trip to Hampden.”
To mark the occasion, the Sons of Finlay commissioned a 9” x 6” banner of their hero.
“A few of the younger fans didn’t know who it was,” continued Roe. “But the older ones were laughing their heads off.
“An older woman actually came over at the end of the game and told us she was related to James. We didn’t manage to get the full story from her, but we’re hoping she’ll get back in touch.”
The Finlayites are hoping to return to another Falkirk game in the future - this time with their leader and ‘Grand Sheikh’ James Coyle Harrison, who couldn’t make it to Hampden.
“We were gutted that Falkirk didn’t win, they were very unlucky” said Jeff.