My grandfather insisted my parents allowed me to go with him to see Falkirk in the Final of the Scottish Cup.”He’ll never see it again in his lifetime, that’s for sure.”
He was wrong.
I still can’t believe that this will be the fourth time I will see my team in the Final and I want to see them win it this time.
I didn’t see it in 1957. I was allowed to go to the Saturday game, but wasn’t allowed to go to the replay on the Wednesday night.
School was to blame.
That was quickly forgotten when the news spread that Falkirk had won the cup that April evening. It seemed everyone was heading for the centre of Falkirk. We were told to put our coats on over our pyjamas and wrap up warmly. I had never seen anything like it. There were bells, whistles, rattles and accordions belting out tunes as the crowd increased to an almost unmanageable size.
Men were climbing lamp-posts and Wellington had plenty of company as his statue became a focal point. The bus took ages to make its way from the Three Bridges into the town.
I hadn’t seen much of the actual game on the Saturday, as my lack of height made it impossible to see over the Bairns supporters who kept jumping up in front of me, but I got the gist of events.
The game itself was not a classic and a draw was about right. Falkirk had lived to fight another day – but it was a day I wasn’t to see.
Later on when the 1957 book was written, it was a great pleasure to meet my heroes and to get to know them on personal terms – and as friends.
On Sunday April 22, 2007, many of those who were there, went to the Hotel Cladhan to recreate the atmosphere of that night. The seven surviving players all attended and there were family representatives of the others.
The toast to Falkirk Football Club was given by Doug Henderson MP, who at the time represented Newcastle North at Westminster. Doug, who could never have guessed that he would be the club chairman as we go into another final, told of his many downs as well as ups in his supporter’s career.
The players all received special commemorative glass medals, and were given awards voted on by members of the Senior Bairns.
Cup Final Man of the Match was Tommy Murray. Player of the Season 1956/57 was Alex Parker and George Merchant was top scorer.
The 1957 heroes were deeply moved by the tribute, and Derek Grierson said the night was “unforgettable” and could not believe that the cup winners were still remembered after all this time.
There are only four of the cup-winners left now, and the news of another passing feels like the loss of a personal friend. Bert Slater once said “You blokes need to find some new heroes. You can’t keep dragging us old guys out all the time.” He meant it.
I really hope that we will find new heroes this time, and in years to come we can all rattle off the names of a Falkirk cup-winning team. Like we still can from 1957.