Auction of strips signed by George Best and Diego Maradona to aid Falkirk area projects
Sir Stanley Matthews, George Best and Diego Maradona probably didn’t envisage that their footballing talent would one day help community projects in Falkirk district.
However, the iconic trio may just be about to lend a posthumous hand to two initiatives that aim to brighten up Bonnybridge village centre, and restore an 18th century monument in Larbert.
The man who is looking to make that happen is Billy Buchanan, Provost of Falkirk, who has been collecting signed jerseys and boxing memorabilia for many years.
He is planning to auction more than 40 framed tops belonging to famous stars, including Sir Geoff Hurst, Henrink Larsson and Zinedine Zidane, a in a bid to raise money for the “projects.
The first of those belongs to Greenhill Historical Society, whose members are seeking to raise enough funds to turn a drab gable wall into a brightly coloured mural in celebration of Bonnybridge’s heritage.
The other involves the remarkable James Bruce of Kinnaird – a descendant of the most famous King of Scots – whose memorial has been left looking rather out of place in a car park behind Larbert Old Parish Church – something the Provost is determined to rectify.
Lockdown restrictions mean auctions cannot take place in a traditional manner, but Provost Buchanan is in the process of setting up a website so football fans can get their hands on his wide-ranging collection from yesteryear.
Among the showpieces are a Manchester United shirt worn by Best in the 1963 FA Cup final versus Leicester City, and a France v Brazil 1998 World Cup final commemorative top.
Provost Buchanan said: “The main ones are signed by Sir Stanley Matthews’ – I went down to London when he was signing the jerseys – and I then went back again for George Best.
“I’ve got a rare commissioned jersey made for ambassadors when the World Cup was held in France in 1998, and there are a couple from Maradona as well; one when he played with Argentina and one with Boca Juniors.
“I’ve exhibited them on two or three occasions in the local library. I collect an awful lot of memorabilia.”
He added: “At this particular stage, I’ve got a lot of projects I want to support.
“One is in Bonnybridge where they’re hoping to put a mural up on the old Co-op building. It is quite an exciting proposal.
“The other is the James Bruce of Kinnaird memorial lying in the car park at Larbert Old Parish Church. It’s going to take a bit of money to get it sorted.
“The obelisk has been lying in that car park for so many years and it’s a tragedy it’s not been put back in its rightful place.
“These things cost money so I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to sell off my full collection. If I can get them sold then I can support local projects, which I’m delighted to do.”
Provost Buchanan hopes his fundraising action will be launched in the coming weeks.