Former Falkirk winger’s ‘belle of the ball’

Tom and Lilly Henderson celebrated their golden wedding on Thursday. Picture: Alan Murray
Tom and Lilly Henderson celebrated their golden wedding on Thursday. Picture: Alan Murray

A former Falkirk footballer said his wife of 50 years was the “belle of the ball” the first time he laid eyes on her.

Tom and Lilly Henderson from Polmont celebrate their golden wedding anniversary today (Thursday) – also Tom’s 70th birthday – and say maintaining each other’s independence has helped them reach the milestone year.

The couple married on Tom’s 20th birthday when Lilly was 18 in Slamannan Parish Church where Lilly, nee Johnstone, grew up.

Tom’s best man was best mate James Mooney, while his brother Willie Henderson and Lilly’s brother Dick Johnstone were his ushers. Lilly’s sister Jean Johnstone and niece Caroline Campbell were her bridesmaids.

They met at a dance night in Slamannan when live bands used to play in the village.

Tom, originally from Shieldhill, said: “I thought she was the belle of the ball when I first saw her, she was beautiful. Still is I must add.”

Winger Tom was with Falkirk FC at the time. He played in the first team during the 1962-63 and 1963-64 seasons. He left the club shortly after they married and played for Linlithgow Rose and was part of the side which won the Scottish Junior Cup in 1965.

Leaving competitive football behind Tom went to work for Borg Chemicals in Grangemouth before heading to the oil rigs offshore. He was on the Piper Alpha platform the day before the tragedy on July 6, 1988, which saw 167 killed, many of them colleagues and friends Tom had known.

He continued on the rigs until working with Occidental in Quatar where the couple lived for a few years.

Lilly was an auxilliary nurse based in Linlithgow for nine years before working at Torwood Hall care home in Larbert. They have a daughter and a son – Sharon (49) and Alan (44).

Tom said: “I think the secret to our long and happy marriage is that we’ve had our own independence. While we love doing things with each other, we still make a lot of time to do things on our own with the great friends we each have.”