Swanny Says …

Largs Thistle ‘Superfan’ Graeme Swanson has his say on all things #Theesel

Swanny Says … 16th Dec 2023

I’ll miss today’s game due to Grandpa duties but I won’t miss the ‘TAROOOONN’ shout that’s heard every time we play Troon, sounds like Foghorn Leghorn giving a very painful birth.

I remember a game at Kirkintilloch when a home supporter shouted ‘Mon Rabs’ only to hear ‘Mon Largs’ from someone behind him in the crowd. A slightly louder ‘Mon Rabs’ was followed yet again by ‘Mon Largs’. The supporter got angrier and angrier as this went on for a minute or two, his voice going up several notches until he finally gave up in disgust at the final ‘Mon Largs’. Not entirely sure who the Theesel culprit was but he may have recently celebrated his 70th birthday in the cabin, you know who I mean.

That got me thinking about team nicknames. Apparently that lot from over the hill are called Blasties after a Robert Burns poem about a horse fair in the town which mentions the town and makes reference to the old blast furnaces from steel and iron production. Why are Kilwinning called the Buffs? They used to wear pale yellow (buff) tops in the early 1900’s, hence the nickname.

One of the best fitba team names in my opinion was AC Milanda, based in Glasgow, possibly the works team from Milanda Bread Bakery? I’m not sure if they still exist but they used to play at the same pitches where we met Ashfield a few weeks ago.

I was an avid reader of football annuals when young and knew every Scottish stadium by name and also the team nicknames, quite often the ground capacities too. If only I’d studied so hard at school and college! Can you imagine going to watch Honest Men v Bairns, or the Angus derby Gable Enders v Red Lichties? Ayr, Falkirk, Montrose and Arbroath in case you’re interested.

I watched the Scottish Welfare Cup Final last season as 5 ex-Thistle players were in the winning Maukinhill Utd team. There were some interesting team names in the earlier rounds such as Forfar Ajax, Montrose Golfy Thistle and Willareal. My research shows that the Scottish Welfare FA was formed in the latter part of 1918 to boost the morale of workers after the Great War. I used to play at that level and each Sunday was basically a great war against the opposition, maybe that’s why I ended up with a broken leg and never played again.

So, we’re Largs Thistle. Other horticultural names in the various leagues include Bonnyrigg Rose, Dundonald Bluebell, Carnoustie Primrose, Hill of Beath Hawthorn, Dundee Violet and Easthouses Lily. South Ayrshire had Burnfoothill Primrose and Benwhat Heatherball near Patna and Dalmellington. My personal nemesis in the East is Linlithgow Rose, whenever I hear that awful chant of ‘Hail the Gallant Rosey Posey’ I want the ground to swallow me up.

Anyway, let’s look forward to the game and hope that the Taroooonn shouter has laryngitis and we don’t need to listen to the annoying shouts. Mon Noo Largs.

Swanny Says … 2nd Dec 2023

I recently messaged ex-player Gary Davidson, he enjoyed success with Lochee and Largs and helped both to Junior Cup Finals. These were his favourite years as a footballer and he really appreciated the welcome given to him by players, supporters and Committees of both teams.

Gary was a young 22-year-old in the newly-promoted Lochee team which reached the OVD Final in 2005 v Tayport at Tannadice and had previously played with St Johnstone and Newburgh. Tayport were a team with loadsa money from the Marr Brothers who soon bought Dundee FC. Wins at   Burghead and Carnoustie (Cup holders) were followed by victories over Lanark (Gary gave Dougie Imrie a couple of dull thuds) and Neilston. A replay at Arthurlie didn’t bode well, down 1-4 after 70 minutes but Lochee sensationally managed to draw level and then win on penalties. Apparently Gary enjoyed the bus journey home! A semi-final at the home of his beloved St Johnstone saw them blow away a strong Maryhill team 4-0 but the final ended disappointingly, the money team won 2-0. Consolation was a league title and some local cup wins.

Prior to joining us in our Scottish Cup Final season 2009/2010 Gary had a short spell with b**th. Yikes!! After six starts he realised his mistake and signed for Theesel. Well remembered for putting on the goalkeeping gloves for 80 minutes after keeper Stephen Connick was injured at Valefield and we still humped ladeside 3-1 at their bit, Gary even saved a penalty just to rub salt in the wounds of that lot from over the hill. My wife’s first ever Theesel game, she still remembers the banter from what she thought was a safe place in our car.

Gary played in our 4-0 win over Couper Angus and then scored a spectacular half-volley in a 4-0 win at Edinburgh United.  A 3-2 home victory v Broughty Athletic then took us to a freezing Bonnyrigg in January 2010. Many supporters (and Gary) remember our performance that day and rank it amongst their top games, we won 3-1. More winter weather delayed a 3-1 win at home to Rob Roy. Gary fondly remembers the media saying after each draw was made that Largs would go tumbling out of the Cup. Not a chance! A quarter final replay win against Medda was followed by a 2-0 aggregate win against Clydebank in the semi-final, this resulted in a superb night out in Largs for the players and supporters. Sometimes I wish I still lived in Largs.

Gary played very well in the final at Rugby Park against Linlithgow Rose who had beaten Lochee in the other semi-final but we lost to a spectacular strike. I won’t mention the horrendous tackle on Cabey, well I maybe will in a future programme.

He asked me to mention his thanks to teammates at both clubs, also to the supporters. Having watched Gary at Largs I can definitely say that he gave his best week in, week out. And did I mention that penalty save at Kilbirnie? Enjoy the game.

Swanny Says … 25th Nov 2023

I mentioned last week that I had quite a number of old Thistle programmes so I thought I’d compare one from September 2008 with today’s masterclass version.

£1 got you a 40-page programme which had the usual mix of results, various league tables, player stats and adverts. Interestingly some advertisers from fifteen years ago still provide welcome support for your team so let’s give a big thanks to Ye Olde Anchor Inn and Largs Rangers Supporters Club.

We had raised some funds at a coffee morning earlier that month, we also had the Largs Thistle Patron’s 200 Club at £5 per month (still the same today) and a Lucky Numbers competition which cost 50p. Choose 4 numbers and if they were amongst the 6 numbers drawn in the National Lottery you would win the jackpot which stood at £1850.

There was a page written by The Pie Spy. He/she was very complimentary about our own ‘Steak Pie wi peas and HP sauce’ but reckoned that their recent culinary experience at Kilwinning was even better. Some quotes. ‘The two wifies in the Pie Stall were tickityboo’, ‘steak pies wur good’, ‘a credit tae Junior fitba and the girls wur gud wi the banter’.

A Referee Watch showed stats on which man in the middle dished out the most yellow and red cards. We’d played 9 games and had received 29 yellow and 1 double yellow. Our opponents had received a measly 24 yellows and a fully merited 3 red cards. John McCrossan gave our players 8 yellow and 2nd yellow in our defeat to the angelic East Kilbride Thistle who received 2 yellow cards. Ross Haswell had been ref at two of our games, any relation to Calum?

The Super League Premier had some surprising names competing in it, apologies to Neilston, Bellshill and Vale of Clyde. We were in the First Division and the Ayrshire District League had Darvel and Troon in their ranks. Johnstone Burgh were in the Central League top division.

Another page included betting odds for the fixtures, we were 4/7 to beat Port Glasgow and won 5-0 to go second top, one point behind Lanark United. If you had punted £2 on a treble which included the 3 teams which won that day you’d have been spending £6.91 winnings in your favourite post-match hostelry.

There were news stories from around the leagues. Girvan had been thrown out of the League Cup for fielding 5 ineligible players and were facing a fine of £500. Glenafton had been fined £200 and docked 3 points for fielding two players who hadn’t been reinstated to the Juniors.

We had a squad of 18 players whilst the Port had 23, many signed for Largs soon after. Our top scorer was James Marks and I think he’s the only one from either squad still playing today. The guys who we signed from the Port were Paul Coyle, Sean Graham, Tam Jamieson, Andy Monaghan, Kevin Struthers and Eddie Walton.

Hopefully you enjoy reading our matchday programme, enjoy the game as well.

Swanny Says … 18th Nov 2023

I saw a cracking pic on social media when we played Jeanfield Swifts, it was fellow programme contributor Calum Corral with ex-player Gary Davidson.

Gary knows that I’m an avid collector of Theesel memorabilia and previously sent me his 2010 Scottish Cup Final top, also a polo shirt which he wore on that sweltering hot day at Rugby Park. His top is now framed and joins other framed items on my museum wall such as Stephen Connick’s gloves from our playoff win v Ashfield (and his 2013 Testimonial programme), Adam Russel’s shorts from the 1994 Final and a ‘Fryfare of Largs’ 1990s sponsored top from George Wall.

George also provided a red and white top (sponsor was Big Apple Leisure), canvas pics of our victorious West of Scotland Cup and Scottish Cup teams and an Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald Cup Finalist 1991 shield. He tells me that there was a wee bit of naughtiness during that game v beith. The shield sits next to Martin Dow’s 2010 Junior Cup Runners Up medal and a Stagecoach Super League 1st Division winners medal from 2009.

Our greatly missed Pat Rall gave lots to me: 1994 Cup Final ticket and souvenir programme, scarf with the players’ names on it, Cup Winners pennant, Davy Elliott’s Cup Final jersey, a 1991 West of Scotland Cup Winners jersey (sponsors were Burnside Roofing) and a centenary whisky glass which sits next to the Man of the Match Award whisky and presentation case v Johnstone Burgh 29/12/2007 given to me by Tam Molloy.

What else do I have? Let’s start with lots of match programmes from 2008 onwards which include the 2010 Final souvenir programme and a programme which shows my first sponsorship, a man of the match whisky for James Marks against Shotts. A 1994 Cup final scarf is part of my collection of 7 scarves (2 are very cosy finest cashmere), I have 11 tops and one pair of Theesel shorts, 3 training tops, 4 bunnets of differing designs, various Theesel mugs, pennants including a player sponsor pennant from 2014, a mouse mat, coasters (lots of!!), club tie, 3 polo shirts, lapel badge, fridge magnets, and the absolutely fantastic Theesel Bible ‘Winning isn’t everything’ by Stuart Robertson.

I’ve been gifted a lot of very kind freebies whilst others have just asked me to put money towards a relevant charity. I’ve also dipped into my own pocket to design and buy a bespoke 2400mm x 1200mm Thistle flag which has travelled to many games and amazingly survived the homeward journey. I saw a local shop near me in Edinburgh advertising Hibs and Hearts embroidered cushions so I thought, ‘why not’ and had a one-off Largs Thistle cushion made. The grandkids love using it as the most comfortable pillow ever. A framed pic of Barrfields is also on my wall and I suppose my various gold and black socks and Adidas trainers can be seen as unofficial merchandise. Also my three black and gold striped clothes posts in the garden, took me ages to paint but well worth the effort

Swanny Says … 28th Oct 2023

At the recent South Challenge Cup game v Dalry I was speaking to Drew Irving, our Website Wizard. We were both hoping for an extended run in the various Cups this season, agreeing that it gave us the chance to visit grounds that we’d never visited previously.

I knew we were due to play away at Riverside Stadium, Perth, home of Jeanfield Swifts and was looking forward to it until I realised that a sleepover had been booked for two rugrats, aka grandchildren. Game off for me and a new stadium adventure missed. What I didn’t realise was that our Junior Cup tie away to Ashfield will also be a new ground to visit (or new cage to visit, according to a wag on Twitter) as they no longer play at Saracen Park. I’m looking forward to visiting next week following the initial postponement. Memories of my last visit to Saracen Park aren’t nice, getting spat on by someone above me in the stand.

That got me thinking about football grounds where I’ve watched Thistle. I did a count, if my memory is correct I’ve seen Largs play at 66 grounds/parks/stadia. Some of them are no longer in use, such as the original Tinto Park, Abbey Park, Petershill Park, Western Park and Adamslie Park (Benburb, Buffs, Peasy, Renfrew and Rob Roy). I’m certain that Thistle stalwarts such as Tim Ryrie and Alex Anderson will have ventured even further than me to watch us play in the depths of the Ayrshire District League in years gone by.

I’ve also seen a few teams v Largs who no longer exist, these being Coltness Utd, Baillieston, Bonnybridge and Polkemmet. I possibly saw Dreghorn prior to their demise during season 1969/70, my first season watching my new ‘home town’ team.

If you add other grounds where I’ve been to watch either Senior or Junior teams in Scotland I can add at least another 37 venues, this also includes places which don’t exist anymore e.g. Brockville, Boghead, Broomfield, Shawfield and Kilbowie (Falkirk, Dumbarton, Airdrie, Clyde and Clydebank for any youngsters still awake and reading this).

Ground Hoppers travel to watch games throughout the UK and beyond, however it’s not something I’d be interested in doing, I prefer to watch MY team. Any far-flung football games for me are usually secondary to the main purpose of a stag doo, boys’ weekend away or similar. That’s allowed me to watch games at Blackpool, Liverpool, Southampton and Munich, each of them sandwiched between visits to the local hostelries. I’ve got a mate who lives in Barr, South Ayrshire who happens to be a Northampton Town supporter. I fancy a rail trip with Alan to see the Cobblers play at Carlisle, it’s on my to-do list and could be quite a bit of fun.

Barrfields. I’ve played there, been on the treatment table needing stitches, taken the raffle board around it, run on to celebrate victories, and now stand regularly behind the dugout.

It’s home and has been since our 1st game here on 29th September 1928.

Swanny Says … 30th Sept 2023

Any Largs Thistle game v Glenafton for me brings back memories (very happy memories) of our Scottish Cup win in 1994.

Back then I lived in Linlithgow, it was a struggle to get to Theesel games as I had a young family, although for some reason Scottish Cup games were always pencilled in my calendar. I missed the first match which was a 2nd Round tie away to Hermes in Aberdeenshire, I’m also pretty convinced that I missed the match and replay against St Ants. Maybe saw the home game?

Our 4th round tie was away to the Fife team Lochore Welfare, that’s when I placed a £10 bet on us to win the Scottish. The local bookie was extremely knowledgeable about Junior football and told me we’d sail past Lochore so he lowered the odds to 33-1. I travelled over to Fife only to find that the pitch was unplayable due to heavy frost, no social media and mobile phones to assist back in the day.

The following week I watched us win 6-0, there was a boisterous Theesel support and I remember seeing a colourful blue bottle of MD 20 20 whizz past the ears of the nearside linesman due to a contentious decision despite our superiority.

Next up were Hall Russell at Barrfields. I’d been at their stadium near Pittodrie in Aberdeen for a Linlithgow Rose game a season or two previously, I think 3 or 4 teams shared the same stadium. Anyway, I headed through to Largs with a pal courtesy of Scotrail which, for me, is never a good mix. Leading 3-0 and with the weather deteriorating I took my mate for a wee tour of some local hostelries and then we journeyed back to Lithgae. Imagine my surprise when I read the Sunday paper to discover the game ended 3-3. I didn’t manage the replay which we won.

The next week was away at Pollock, three of us travelled from the East and had a great wee session before and after our win at Newlandsfield and were a part of the fantastic support that day who witnessed a superb performance. Plenty singalongs.

Semi final v Buffs at Ayr’s Somerset Park on a Friday night was my next Scotrail journey, the section between Kilwinning and Ayr was interesting! My mate and I had a bit of bother finding overnight accommodation as it was Scottish Grand National weekend, we ended up sharing a room with 3 or 4 other randoms who were there for the races. Well worth it as we won 2-1 to reach the Scottish Cup Final, think the crowd was about 7,000. Don’t know why we went into the wrong end before the start but thankfully got escorted to our end of the stadium. Phew!

So, May 15th at Ibrox Stadium, our cup final v Glenafton. I organised a mini-bus from Linlithgow, pub opened early for us and we had a blast. Fortunately I got past the Ibrox stewards at the second attempt and watched us win the holy grail 1-0. There’s a few tales to tell.

Swanny Says … 23rd Sept 2023

We have five home games during September, whilst that’s good news for our Treasurer it’s not such good news for me, I think I’ve got Writer’s Block. “Creative slowdown” they call it, although I’m sure many of you who read this believe I’ve had Writer’s Block for many years.

During the game against Dalry I met up with ex- player George Wall who captained us in the West of Scotland Cup Final victory in 1991 and played an invaluable part in our Scottish Cup win in 1994. Standing with George was his good friend Joe McLaughlin.

I’d say Joe’s main claim to fame was playing at Barrfields in January last year in the charity match between Largs Thistle Legends and Dukla Pumpherston which raised funds for the defibrillator but Wikipedia made no mention of that game despite Joe saying it was his first game of football since turning 60 years young. He’s a year older than me but there was absolutely no comparison between the very fit, tanned, svelte Joe and your shop-soiled, Buckfast-bellied, red wine-nosed Swanny. It must be a life-style thing.

For younger readers, Joe started his career with Morton in 1977 and then signed for Chelsea for a fee of £100,000. He played at Stamford Bridge for 6 seasons, making over 200 appearances in the blue shirt. A fee of £650k took Joe to Charlton which at that time was their record transfer. Another substantial fee of £500k took Joe to Watford where he captained the Hornets for two seasons before returning to Scotland. Joe now runs Soccer Icon USA, a company that specialises in sending top young footballers, boys and girls, to develop their football career and study at Colleges in America. I’d bet a few USA dollars that if George Wall was 45 years younger his good pal would be arranging a lucrative pro-career for Geo in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Another face that I noted in the crowd at the Dalry game was regular attendee Dicky Brock who became Manager at Barrfields for a 2nd time in season 1989/90 and led the team to our West of Scotland Cup Final victory against Renfrew the following year. We also reached the final of the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald Cup (Ayrshire Regional Cup) that season, losing to b**th in extra time, and were beaten by bei** in the semi final of the Irvine Times Cup (Ayrshire Cup), again after extra time. Not a bad first full season for Dicky. I’m sure he used to be player sponsor for Nicky Jamieson who now plays professionally so he certainly has an eye for a player, he’s sponsored Craig Forbes this season. I had a few pints with Dicky after a game last season, I must hook up with him again soon and write down some of his tales for this column.

Hey, who said I had Writer’s Block? I think I’ve discovered a cure, two large glasses of red wine on a wet Sunday afternoon.

Swanny Says … 16th Sept 2023

Would you believe that I played as a trialist goalkeeper for Dalry Thistle Boys Club back in the 1970’s?

And they actually wanted to sign me despite losing a last-minute winner in a 2-3 defeat!
90th minute, me holding the ball about to punt it up the park, boy punches it out of my hands, my temper made me chase after the culprit only to realise their centre forward had toe-poked the loose ball into an empty net.

My next remonstration was with the referee, hey nothing changes, here I am almost 50 years later still having issues with officialdom. You wouldn’t want me to change, would you?
Now living in the East, my nearest ex-Juniors stadium is Musselburgh, 3 miles or so from home. I’ve watched Theesel win there in the Scottish, the handy wee pub near the ground with cheap beers and haufs has recently become gentrified. I don’t think William Crawford and others like myself would be welcome there now despite us having spent a few dollars keeping their predecessors in
business when The Theesel were in town , maybe 2009? I think we won 3-1, Stephen Quigg and Archie Halley were our management team at that time, an absolutely fantastic victory which didn’t go down too well with the locals.
Our 2010/11 Scottish Cup run was short, beating Royal Albert 2-0 only to get gubbed by Renfrew in the next round. What to do on Scottish Cup days? Well, the Musselburgh v Ladeside quarter final ticked my boxes, especially as James Marks was playing despite his change of allegiance to that lot over the hill so I made my way to Olive Bank. Slik was very poorly served by his team and Ladeside were pumped 2-0. Believe it or not, the game was held up for a few minutes to allow a ten-pin bowling ball to be removed from the playing surface. I can’t smuggle in a beer bottle but that lot can smuggle in a 21cm diameter ball weighing 6.5 Kg!!!!

Dalry’s cup run that season included wins v St Rochs (7-1), Glencairn (2-1), Neilston (5-1), Haddington (2-1), Rob Roy (3-1).
They travelled to Musselburgh for the semi-final in April and lost 1-0 (I watched as a neutral but annoyed the locals for occasionally shouting in favour of the North Ayrshire team). East v West is definitely an issue in Musselburgh.
Unfortunately, Dalry couldn’t manage a victory at home, a 1-1 draw allowed Musselburgh passage into the final. A friend of mine, long time Mussy supporter, told me that he and his friends weren’t going to the 2 nd leg as they were a bit apprehensive (feart) about going to North Ayrshire for such an important game.
I went to the final at Rugby Park and confidently predicted that Musselburgh would score from a free kick as I’d seen it happen at those games. I was correct, their player Chris King equalised but Talbot triumphed 2-1 in extra time.

As the saying goes, ‘West is Best’. Theesel are Better.

Swanny Says … 9th Sept 2023

Less than 18 hours after our win over Arthurlie I was heading out to Spain for a few days.
Unfortunately my holiday coincided with the funeral for Pat Rall, I’d have loved to pay my respects
to the wee man and to his family.

I also missed the Pollok game, maybe not a bad thing.
Another ‘unfortunate’ was that my hearing aids stopped working after two days in Spain and I was
unable to hear Mrs Swanny talk at me. I’ve not had that feeling of joie de vivre since that warm
feeling of satisfaction as I remembered our football during season 2018/19, beating Medda 7-0,
Ladeside 6-0 and Renfrew 5-0 at Barrfields. Let’s not forget away wins at Petershill 4-0, Cambuslang
6-0 and Cumnock 7-1. Immense. Oh, and a Scottish Cup 9-0 victory at Arbroath, 4-0 home v Shotts,
5-2 away at St Roch’s, 5-0 home v Buffs. I’ve booked an appointment to get the hearing aids
repaired, not all good things last for ever.

During the holiday I read two books. One by Peter Crouch ‘How to be an Ex Footballer’ which was an
easy read and an insight into the highs and lows of professional footballers, especially post career
adulation and no income but same old outgoings. Statistics show a huge percentage of players being
insolvent or having marital problems. It’s not a level of football that I watch so I didn’t recognise a lot
of the names mentioned. Perhaps another reason why my Last Man Standing entries haven’t got
beyond week 3 either last season or this one.

The other was a crime book written by an esteemed member of our match programme editorial
team, Sinclair McLeod. Hugely enjoyable, I decided that I knew the murderer by page 175 only to be
thrown a huge curve ball by the author and 100 pages later I was proven wrong. It was a similar
feeling to be cruising to a predicted 3-0 win over Beith, safe in the knowledge that the bookie was
going to pay out on my bet only for VAR to award a 97 th minute penalty to our North Ayrshire
neighbours. Apologies to any VARkers out there who like that new technology, it doesn’t rock my
boat. I may even have berated a ref or lino for giving such a penalty, having read Sinclair’s book I
would now say “sorry Marsha” after my outburst, you need to read the book to find out why.
I mentioned bookies there. I very rarely gamble and haven’t set foot in a bookmakers’ since 1994.
Sinclair’s book provides a great contrast to olden (my age) bookies to modern bookmaker
establishments. If I bet nowadays I ask either my son or son-in-law to provide my donation to Mr
Ladbroke or whoever. My best ever bet?

Well, back in 1994, before we played Lochore in the 4 th
Round I put £10 on Largs to win The Scottish at 33-1. I believe the team also placed a bet on
themselves winning the Cup, we were all winners 5 rounds later.

Swanny Says … 2nd Sept 2023

After each Theesel game I post on Twitter (now X) with details of the score, LTFC scorers, my man of the match and estimated attendance. Nothing too controversial, I don’t think I’m that sort of person. No sniggering at the back please.

Sitting at home after our game v Arthurlie I noticed quite a number of tweets about a Scottish comedian (I’ll protect her identity but her name is similar to Janey Leygod). She was getting pelters for having posted a tweet following the revelations about the Nurse who had been found guilty of murdering seven babies. Accusations ranged from her being sick, vile, and also referred to previous tweets from her being racist and attacking those with disabilities. Being nosey I thought I’d look at her Twitter profile to see what all the fuss was about, lo and behold I received a message ‘you are blocked from following and viewing posts’. Whit? I’ve never entered into any dialogue with her, she maybe has a dislike of all things Largs Thistle? Or is it just me?

It reminded me of a time when a Cumnock supporter sent a Friend Request. I agreed, then received a barrage of abuse aimed at Gary Fleming, Bryan Slaven and Arnie. He accused the latter two of wearing Talbot tops under the training kit, I politely explained that we’d just recently changed our tops to vertical stripes but he was having none of it and challenged me to…….a golf match! I don’t play golf and he boasted that he was an 8 handicapper. Well, a couple of well-chosen words and a meme from me, OK it wasn’t a politically correct meme, tipped Tiger Woods rival over the edge and he blocked me.

I follow lots of football teams on Twitter but the only team to block me, as far as I’m aware, are St Roch’s. I seemed to upset them and a number of their fan base after our draw in the Scottish Cup at Barrfields back in 2019. Prior to the replay I received various messages detailing what they were planning to do to me on the day. After our resounding 5-2 win our current Chairman very kindly took care of me and drove me back to the railway station, well away from the despondent and angry Candy Rocks supporters. Thanks Ali. I’ve been back to the James McGrory Park a few times since then, undercover and behind enemy lines. Perhaps that’s why Ali gave me season ticket number 007, Secret Agent Swanny.

I’m racking my brain trying to remember when I last saw Lugar. I’ve never been at their home ground but I found a video from May 2007 showing Phil Cannie score the opener there, I’m sure it’s Jim Laing’s voice I hear congratulating the mercurial Phil on his goal. I’d love to hear memories of Phil’s time at Barrfields from other supporters, might even print them on here if I’m allowed! He played for my Legends Team in 2019, a top guy who was delighted to wear the gold and black colours again, now involved with East End Boys Club.

Swanny Says … 19th Aug 2023

I must admit that I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Arthurlie. I like the fact that they played in the Scottish Football League many years ago and I enjoy the ‘feel’ of their Dunterlie Park home, imagining the big crowds they would have had back then. I actually used to write a page in their match programme eight years ago, providing a fortnightly update of games in the McBookie.com Super 1st Division (Largs were in that league at the time and ‘Lie were in the Premier). Robert Burns was the main man behind the programme, it was good to meet up with him when we won at Borrheid towards the end of last season.

Robert kindly featured me in their programme when we played them on 01/10/2016. It showed a picture of me holding the Scottish Cup, also a picture of my black and gold ‘lucky socks’ which I used to buy each season and wear to our Scottish Cup games. I had to answer some questions such as:

So what does attending a home match entail? A home game at Barrfields, the Field of Dreams, means a round trip of 180 miles when I’m driving from Portobello. Last week I went through by train for our Scottish Cup match. That meant leaving my house at 9.30am, bus, train, walk, train, then in Vegas. Unfortunately I don’t remember getting back home, must be an age thing.

Can you remember your first Largs game? I’d moved from Glasgow to Largs around Easter 1969 aged 8 so my first games watching Theesel would be the 69/70 season. An early memory was a cup tie against Polkemmet. I’d never seen folks throwing up at the fitba before! Don’t think the Fifers travelled well that day.

What’s your favourite away ground and why? I hope this doesn’t upset any ‘Lie fans but it’s Newlandsfield, home of your big rivals Pollok, stay with me though. The reason it holds a special place in my heart goes back to season 1993/94 when a ten-man Largs side defied all the odds to knock Pollok out of the Scottish Cup at the quarter final stage at their own midden, halcyon days indeed.

Putting you on the spot now but can you give us your all time Largs X1? My all time Largs X1, what a horrible question but here goes. Kenny Barnstaple, Andy Elliott, Frank Morrison, George Wall, Craw Boyd, Ian Baillie, Chico Valerio, Brian Reid, Joe Dornan, Stephen Quigg and Willie McClelland.

What game if any sticks in your mind as a Largs supporter? Most Theesel fans of my vintage will say their favourite game was the 1994 Scottish Cup Final but my best game was more recent. It has to be the play off victory over Ashfield, from being 3-0 down after 19 minutes to level the tie 4-4 then win on penalties was one of the days that make you realise why football is so special. So I have a soft spot for Arthurlie. Hope we pump them today.

Swanny Says … 12th Aug 2023

I’m writing this just a few minutes after seeing the final score from Portland Park, well done Theesel, more of the same today please.

I missed the game for a number of reasons. a) the weather forecast was dreadful b) a lot of roads were blocked off by mad cyclists c) I was under pressure to repaint coving in my bedroom.

Back in January 2020 we had a leak at our bedroom chimney repaired, since then I’ve been pressurised by Mrs Swanny to repair and decorate the damaged coving. By pressurised I mean a weekly moan, that amounts to 182 moans until I was finally broken by a mega-moan which sounded like the noise a wind-up air raid siren makes when it starts up. So off I went to the shed for various painting paraphernalia mumbling under my breath that when you rush a job you make mistakes.

Anyway, I digress. For those who know me, they’ll be aware that Clydebank aren’t one of my favourite opponents. I’ve had numerous verbal spats with their supporters over the years, all part of the football ‘banter’ I suppose. I always laugh thinking about one of them telling me I only come to the big games when we pumped them in the Scottish Cup semi-final over 2 legs. Rewind to 1969 fella when I started my love for my team.

They say that confession is good for the soul, well, here goes. My maternal Grandmother was born in Clydebank in 1905…yikes! She used to tell me that her father wore a bowler hat to work each day. No, he wasn’t in the Orange Order, he was a Shipyard Manager and apparently that was the dress code for a Manager back in the day. Interestingly the man she first married enjoyed his football and played for Rangers during the 1923-24 season under Bill Struth (ok, 2 games but he was a winger and the main man was Alan Morton). The team finished top of the league, 9 points ahead of second-placed Airdrieonians. The Scottish Cup run was halted by Hibernian after wins against Lochgelly United and St Mirren. Scottish top tier football seemed a lot more competitive in those days.

So that was my maternal Grandmother, any guesses where my Gran Swanson was born and lived for a long time? Answer at the bottom of the page, if you think Clydebank in my blood is bad then prepare to be shocked.

A big thanks to the various volunteers who helped tidy up Barrfields for the season ahead, also lining the park and putting up sponsor boards. A club like Largs needs as much help as possible as we have a small Committee, seems like the call was successful, was it the promise of ‘refreshments’ which caught people’s attention?

Our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages have been re-vamped, and have you looked at our new website? Tremendous! Still a work in progress but it’s great to see. I love it.

Answer. Beith. I must have done something dreadful in a previous life.

Swanny Says … 2nd Aug 2023

Hello 2023/24. How has your close season gone?

I managed to get a bit of a ‘fitba fix’ at Alloa when I went to watch the Scottish Welfare Cup Final in late May, Maukinhill Utd v Glenugie Utd. Two reasons for going to Alloa. My son lives there and was great to see him, partner and grandkids and get given loadsa pizza on a sunny afternoon. I walked from Andy’s house to Recreation Park to see ex-Theesel players Graham Black, Wullie McClure, Martin Dow, Ross McMillan and Gary Fleming. A 4-2 win for Maukinhill, Graham scored twice, Ross once and Wullie bagged a goal and also the Player of the Match Trophy.

This Summer I’ve been playing kickabout with eldest grandson Caleb and his sister Mia, both play with Lochend Football Academy in Edinburgh. I’m jealous of the coaching and facilities they have nowadays, so superior to what we had in my day back in the early 70’s.

I’ve attended a few pre-season friendlies as well. I watched Theesel win the John Grant Tournament at Johnstone again, winning 2-0 v Maryhill after a comprehensive 5-0 victory v Johnstone £££Burgh the previous day. I also saw ex-goalie coach Andy Jack play for Tranent against Stenhousemuir and Talbot, winning both and making some terrific saves. Talbot will miss Andy Leishman, one of Darvel’s latest purchases.

And now, time for new-season resolutions. Will I keep them? You decide.

  • I’m going to be nice to refs and linos this season, provide encouragement when they make mistakes rather than berate them, we’re all human after all. My son-in-law Kev ‘procured’ a ref kit for me when George Wall organised the wee tourney to raise funds for our defibrillator. My kit was from Ref Barrie Cook, have a wee look on Google for ‘Partick v Morton goal disallowed’. That maybe explains my abysmal attempt to be a ref in the 7-a-side tourney, however I’m happy to say I booked a b*i*h player. It’s the little things.
  • I’m also going to be kinder to ‘that lot from over the hill’ when we next meet in a competitive match, although as they are a league below us and sinking that may take a few years. I shall also be kinder to the league winners who wear black n white (have I taken that too far?). Best goal ever, George Sewell v them last season.
  • I’m not going to shout sweary words at opposition players, fans and management. OK, this may be the most difficult resolution but I’m determined to try. Our Chaplain Graham McWilliams will be impressed if I succeed. I managed three games on the trot last season without swearing, a tremendous achievement although two of them were due to me having acute laryngitis.

Anyway, it’s fantastic to be back watching our team, meeting up with supporters, having a good old blether and appreciating all that our Committee and Management have achieved in getting our team into a challenging position in the League and various Cup competitions for season 2023/24.

‘Mon Theesel.