Darvel attracted a lot of interest during their recent run in the Scottish Cup, I read a lot of positive things about them, also a lot of negative. They seem to have split opinion. The negative comments concentrated on the budget that they have from their money men, allegedly similar to budgets of clubs in Scottish League One e.g. Clyde, Alloa, Airdrie. The positive reviews gave excellent exposure to our league, the West of Scotland Premier League.
I had great delight, as I’m sure many other Theesel supporters did, in telling people that Largs had recently beaten Darvel so that made us a far, far better team than Aberdeen. My logic stemmed from Scotland becoming World Champions after defeating World Cup holders England in 1967.
My earliest Junior Cup away day was actually a trip to Darvel in 1976, it was the first time that we’d reached the Quarter Finals.
A fleet of buses departed from Largs and I believe it was possibly the largest attendance in Recreation Park at that time.
We lost 1-0 to a penalty scored by their captain Willie Frew. He was a Juniors Legend, a very physical player and I remember hearing an ex-player say “Willie put the fear of death in me even when we were in the same team”.
I had the pleasure of meeting the man mountain at Barrfields a few seasons ago and had my picture taken with him, he was an absolute gentleman despite me giving him verbals for scoring the penalty. In our programme v Arthurlie I mentioned the old entrance gate and terracing at the Swimming Pool end of the ground.
This prompted some memories from supporter Bill Tomlinson. He recalled climbing the steps for the first time for a Western League fixture v Dreghorn in the 1950’s and sitting in the stand, a rare treat as he was used to standing to watch his home-town team Cardiff City.
Dreghorn withdrew from the league during season 1969/70. The visitors’ right half was knocked unconscious and play was held up for 10 minutes.
The defender gave himself a shake after a few dabs of the magic sponge and played on as there were no subs back in the day.
It reminded Bill of our ex-player Cairen Friel being knocked out against Winton and the game being abandoned whilst officials waited forty-five minutes for an ambulance to take Cairen to hospital.
I got in touch with Cairen last week. After leaving Barrfields in 2017 he played for today’s visitors Petershill for a season then went to Ashfield, making headlines when he scored 5 goals in a game against Annbank. A wee bit time out from football to allow for studies and becoming a PE Teacher, he returned to football and was named as Man of the Match for his new team Neilston earlier this month. During our texts he told me that, coincidentally, during the recent match he received a head knock and has had a peach of a black eye since!