It was the Grangemouth boys’ club that swept all before them and won a unique quadruple of trophies, including the league title and Scottish Cup.
The ICI Juveniles under-16 team of 1997/98 enjoyed an extraordinary dominance, even by schoolboy football standards. Based at the former ICI recreation ground at Earlsgate, now the site of an Asda distribution centre, the team contained a number of players who would break through to the senior ranks.
Captain was Brown Ferguson, a former Alloa Athletic and Stenhousemuir midfield stalwart, who is now assistant manager at Ochilview under Scott Booth.
It was a recent Falkirk Herald article on Brown - known as ‘Bomber’ to his teammates - that inspired a former ICI coach to get in touch and share the story.
Ferguson mentioned his ICI team when referring to the year he went from playing schoolboy football to the East Stirlingshire first team aged just 16.
But according to ex coach and club secretary Jim Irvine, Brown has being too modest when looking back.
“I believe that Brown has undersold himself a bit here,” he said. “He captained ICI to win the under-16 Scottish Cup, beating both Tynecastle Boys Club and Hutchison Vale in Edinburgh, before beating Musselburgh Windsor in the final at Prestonfield, Linlithgow Rose’s stadium.
“We also ran out clear winners of the under-16 league, the league cup and the Andy Duncan cup.”
ICI, which is now known as Syngenta Juveniles, has won several Scottish Cups at other age groups, but Jim insists that this particular team were something special.
“They were a good set of laddies who all got on well together, trained hard, listened to what their coaches had to say and reaped the rewards,” he added.
“Also playing in that team were Jimmy Lister, formerly of Alloa, Berwick, Dumbarton and now Airdrie, and Colin ‘Scifo’ Allison - once of Livingston, Linlithgow Rose and now Camelon.
“Hugh McCann was to sign five of this team for East Stirlingshire for season 1999, but unfortunately there were a few issues with cash and Alan Mackin scrapped the club’s youth policy, and immediately after that Hugh McCann resigned.”
Jim, a retired engineer from Polmont, first became involved at ICI in 1992 when he helped his brother-in-law Jim Oliver run the under-18s. He would later become club secretary.
“During my time John Dick was chairman and Wullie McIlvaney the treasurer. The amount of time and effort these guys put in may not have been recognised by all, but I thank them both for bringing success to the club.”