By Mister C
We were in our first season and arranged two games in two days to finish off the year’s football……………
The weekend started for Davie Nisbet and myself on the Friday when we travelled to Perth to acclimatise for the friendly game the next day.
An evening of good company and refreshments followed and Sandy Carr and Gav Stewart provided a bed for the night.
Saturday 12th December 1987 - Friendly
v St.Johnstone at South Inch 6-2 (3-1)
Gordon Hunter, Barry Haniford, Robert Graham, Neil McAllister, Davie Nisbet, Iain Campbell (c), Hector Cook, Alan Raeburn, John Drennan, Alan Rhodes and Stephen McGilp
Saturday dawned and the fog was heavy around South Inch as we waited for the rest of the squad to arrive from Glasgow. Stewart “The Vicar” Hendry also showed up with his son in law as Queen’s were playing at Muirton Park in the afternoon.
The pitch was hard underfoot and we tried out a new centre back partnership in Davie and Neil and we also drafted in Alan “Rhodesy” Rhodes for his debut along with a couple of our fringe players including Hector and Barry.
Saintees scored an early goal but we eventually took charge of the game and ran out 6-2 winners thanks to two goals from Hector, a Rab Graham solo effort and an incredible three own goals !
Near the end we were awarded a penalty and it was decided that Rhodesy should take it but unfortunately the keeper saved his kick.
An easy and enjoyable game but there is always someone who isn’t happy and Barry Haniford wasn’t impressed with CG Machine’s performance and said to him after the game, “John, I always knew you couldn’t play football and today you proved it”. Wise words indeed.
After the game we headed to the social club at Muirton Park (run by Davie Fair now the owner of Ormonds) for some hospitality before watching Saints beat Queen’s in the big game.
Afterwards the squad head for home leaving Davie and myself to enjoy some more socialising with Sandy and Gav in the Muirton Club.
A good few drinks, a good few chats, and the odd wee snooze later and we ordered ourselves a taxi to take us to Errol to my brother’s where we were staying that night.
Errol is halfway between Perth and Dundee and Davie decided that he was hungry and asked the driver to find a chippy.
The taxi stopped at a chippy and Nisby went out, after offering to get the driver something as well, of course, and he eventually returned with food and a local guy.
The guy claimed his sister had just had a baby and he needed a lift to the hospital (it was after midnight by this time) so the bold Nisby said, “no problem, by the way”.
Ten minutes later, and we dropped the guy off at his house in some Perth housing estate (!) and then we headed out onto the dual carriageway to Errol.
The fog was even worse now and the driver missed the cut off to Errol and we eventually got dropped off at the road end, only a two mile walk to my brothers.
A breakfast on the Sunday morning, a wee walk round the village to try and clear our heads then we went back to Perth to get the train to Glasgow.
Naturally we missed the train we were going for and it was an hour till the next one so I phoned Stevie McGilp to tell him we were running late and could he let everybody know we’d be there eventually.
At last we reached Glasgow and we got the bus to the team’s HQ in Prospecthill Circus for tea and toast before we arrived at the Toryglen pitches (at the ASDA side).
On arrival at Toryglen we were met with all sorts of problem as three players, Tubsy Raeburn, Rab Graham and Stephen "Stormy" Stormonth, hadn’t turned up (they had gone to QP Recs) and Stevie had only just turned up as he knew we’d be late !
CG Machine was in charge of the delaying tactics and Dumbarton had seen an opportunity to get the game on despite the surface being rock hard. Referee AKC Harvey agreed with Dumbarton so it was game on.
We were down to eleven and luckily Mach was registered to play in the Supporters League (he always had his kit in his car, just in case) but we were without Neil McAllister who was there but we assumed he was suspended (Neil consistently got booked for handball, catching the ball over his head generally, but those bookings only had a one point rating so he was actually available for this game. It would be churlish to blame our Secretary at the time for this error, well I might not have got a game if I’d done my job right !).
Anyway, I’ll let Neil (adapted from The Web No.45 and our team’s programme report) give his report on the game.
Sunday 13th December 1987 – Scottish Supporters League
v Dumbarton at Toryglen 6-5 (2-2)
Martin Harvey, Iain Campbell, Stephen Fox, Ronnie Burns (c), John Donaldson, David Wilson, Davie Nisbet, Gordon Hunter, Kenny McLellan, Stephen McGilp and John Drennan
“My first sight on arriving at Toryglen was not an encouraging one. The CG Machine leaving the dressing room without his tracksuit, duffel coat, Tom Weir bunnet and gloves. Sorry, the gloves were there, of course, ninety minutes or none, the gloves will always be there.
“Next came Campbell, not a happy man. Three players hadn’t turned up, he’d have to play and, being a Sunday, he was feeling particularly fragile from a heavy night’s imbibing with Nosebag [Nisbet] the night before. Speaking of whom, you Nosebag looked as if you hadn’t seen your bed, your house or your face in weeks. A disciplinary letter has been sent to the man asking what he was drinking as we all want some.
“Ah yes, the game.
“Team spirit was understandably very near the bottom of the glass and with ten minutes gone things were as bad as they could be. It was 2-0 to Dumbarton thanks to two embarrassingly easy goals. To make matters worse Nosebag had nearly scored a third but luckily Martin turned his effort round the post as he wasn’t sure which way he was shooting !
“I honestly thought we were in for a real hammering but I didn’t reckon on one man – CG Machine.
“The Machine was leaning against the goal post when the ball arrived at his feet from a long throw in but, a quick wiggle of those shorts and a wiggle of those hips and the ball was in the imaginary net.
“If Drennan’s in form the team’s on form, no doubt about it, and to prove it Kenny “Sorry Lads” McLellan made a muff and actually scored. Stevie McGilp hacked over a corner, Wilson tried to shoot (why I don’t know and the sad thing is, neither does he) but there was Kenny to stroke it home for the equaliser.
“The team were playing superbly with everyone fighting hard for the ball, especially the defence who were bricking themselves every time the ball went down Dumbarton’s left wing.
“The second half got under way with Dumbarton going back into the lead.
“We weren’t done yet though and Gordon Hunter got the ball outside the Dumbarton box, beat a defender then wacked a shot at goal. The keeper only managed to half save the effort then saw the ball trickle along the line the lethal feet of CG Machine who, arm in arm with an opposing player, took the ball for a wee stroll over the line to give us the equaliser.
“Dumbarton came back again to score with a header from a long throw then it was nearly 5-3 when a shot eluded Martin but Donzo Donaldson appeared from nowhere to head the ball off the line.
“We were under pressure but Gordon Hunter equalised to make it 4-4 and forced me to delve into my second packet of Rothmans.
“Our fifth goal was a peach of a goal. McGilp tanned the full back in typical Danish style [Stevie looked a bit like Jesper Olsen], whacked over a good, hard cross which the keeper, yet again, muffed and there was Kenny McLellan, sunbathing, to shoot home.
“Dumbarton then scored a fifth almost straight away with a lob into the top corner.
“The winner, the goal I shall never forget, the goal that could change the course of mankind, came with only ten minutes left.
“Ginger Nut Hunter, in yet another of his mazy runs, broke through the line of opposing players and his pass/shot zoomed across the six yard box to be pounced upon by the ruthless Machine who struck it beautifully into the bottom corner.
“The whole team went berserk and mobbed the great Drennan who took it all in his usual cool, unflappable stride, but then encouraged everybody by saying, “I’ve done my bit, let’s hold onto it this time”.
“Final whistle and we’d held on for a famous victory. The dressing room afterwards was the place to be in Glasgow that afternoon. Everybody was delighted with everyone else’s performance and to round off a great day it was up to the MacDonald Hotel for a beer.
“Credit goes to everyone for a spirited, fighting and, dare I say it, entertaining game. Special mention has to go to Nosebag and Campbell for being able to get out of their bed let alone play a game of football.
“Mac’s Magician – GINGER SNAP HUNTER who had an outstanding game.”
What Neil didn’t mention was that he gave me £10 to buy everybody a drink in the pub afterwards, although Davie and myself were on soft drinks, for the first time for a wee while.
An incredible day and the Machine was only coming to Toryglen as he had the strips with him and hadn’t even been in the original thirteen.
But, what of legendary Boss Higgins ? Well, he missed the weekend as he was allegedly “looking at players” although in reality he was lying on somebody’s couch steaming.
On the Sunday evening Higgy phoned me to find out the score and I explained we only had eleven, me and Mach had to play and there were eleven goals in the game. Just before he hung up in disgust I said, “oh we won 6-5 and Mach scored a hat trick”.
Down went the phone and Higgy immediately phoned round the rest of the team as he thought I was still drunk !!
The Dumbarton game was the last of 1987 and we started back in the new year with a friendly against one of Higgy’s work’s teams. Unfortunately Mach was dropped to the bench and I was dropped altogether (on my birthday as well) and the great Drennan never played another Supporters League game.
A few months later Dumbarton complained at a Supporters League meeting that the pitch had been unplayable and the game should never have taken place. As most people from other teams knew the story of the game the complaint was literally laughed out of court.
However the game will always remain one of our most famous of all time thanks in no small part to the Crosshill Goal Machine, but we never did find out what Barry Haniford thought of Mach after his hat trick !!