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 Stand By Me
Topic Originator: sammer  
Date:   Mon 20 Apr 15:42

‘I never had any friends later like the ones I had when I was 12. Christ, does anyone?’

So ends the coming of age film ‘Stand By Me.’ This idea of a special boyhood bond might hold true for football friendships too. It was once a common scene in Scotland. A bunch of boys would be kicking a ball about on some spare patch of grass, imagining they were treading the turf at Hampden or Wembley, wearing the dark blue of Scotland in the annual clash with England. In this fantasy each lad would be allocated a different role in the national team but there was one item which could not be shared out: the last minute penalty to decide the game. Every boy must have acted out that scenario a hundred times. So when Gary McAllister missed his spot kick in 1996 it was beyond belief: how could a Scotsman screw up the very moment that he had spent half his life preparing for!!

Anyhow, how many of these pals ever did fulfil their boyhood dreams and end up playing together for their country? Apart from brothers (Charltons, van de Kerkhofs, de Boers) the answer should statistically speaking be about zero. Yet there have been a few. Here are five pairings.

One boy who later did sink his penalty to win a game at Wembley was John Robertson from Uddingston. He played on a spare patch of grass with a more confident lad who captained the Primary and Secondary school sides: Ian Munro, later Pars manager. Unfortunately Munro was not there that day of the penalty at Wembley but he had played against England at Hampden the year before when Jock Stein, surely in a moment of misjudgement, selected both Alex McLeish and Roy Aitken in midfield to the exclusion of Robertson. No matter, they did line up a few times together on the left side. Munro, now playing as a left back, overlapped and made a goal for Robertson in a 4-0 victory in Oslo. Munro played against Maradona while Robertson faced Socrates, Zico and company in a World Cup, so their dreams largely came true.







Budapest was once one of the main football nurseries of European football which was where two schoolboy neighbours had started kicking a ball about in a courtyard in the 1930s. After WW2 Jozsef Bozsik and his friend Ferenc Puskas were soon established in the local Kispest team, now renamed Honved : ‘Defenders of the Homeland.’ Attacking was more their style and they later became key players in the great Hungarian side of the 1950s, both netting in the 1953 game at Wembley. The two boys from Kispest also captained their country and have records which stand to this day: midfielder Bozsik remains the most capped outfield Hungarian with 101 caps while Puskas’ 84 goals will take some beating. Puskas claimed he knew, maybe from boyhood, exactly where a Bozsik pass would land before it was played.







I’ll need some local help on this one. Many years back a newspaper claimed that a street in Blairhall should be called not South Avenue but ‘Football Avenue’ since it had produced so many professional players. One of them was Jackie Sinclair, our prolific wide attacker and the others could have been full back John Lunn and goalkeeper Eric Martin. Sinclair was a few years older but Lunn and Martin were born only months apart so it’s inevitable they must have been kicking a ball about together since Primary School. John Lunn remains as good a left back as Dunfermline have ever produced and Eric Martin, although he had a brief career at East End Park before he moved to Southampton to play about 300 matches, is well remembered for his courageous keeping. Only Sinclair was capped for his country but Lunn was well good enough and if Martin had stayed in Scotland he would likely have been capped as well.







Maybe not boyhood pals but they both wore the number 11 jersey for Scotland. Willie Johnston was from Bowhill and by the time he made secondary school was being tipped as a future professional since he was simply too fast for opponents and had a cracking left foot shot into the bargain. Tommy Hutchison could not even make the Cardenden school team. He remembers once lending Johnston his bike only to discover Willie had fallen off and flung it under a bus! Stein and Busby tried to sign the Bowhill flier but after a visit to Old Trafford, training alongside another teenager called George Best, Johnston opted for Rangers. Hutchison meanwhile was being knocked back by Oldham Athletic and Dundee United before grabbing a chance with Alloa.

Willie Johnston was playing for Scotland at the age of 18 whereas it took Tommy Hutchison until he was 27 to pull on a Scotland jersey. In terms of style they were chalk and cheese but both very good footballers who appeared at World Cup Finals. Hutchison’s international career was short but he is fondly remembered for his part in the 1974 campaign. Johnston’s Scotland career never really took off, was interrupted by suspensions and possible SFA blacklisting, and ended in ignominy in Argentina. Which one scored the most goals for Scotland? Amazingly it’s Tommy Hutchison, with just one.







These two weren’t brothers although their fathers were close friends who moved from Surinam and stayed together for a while when first arriving in Amsterdam. Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit were born within days of each other and later played competitive street games in the Old West part of the city. Blessed with natural athleticism their ability was noted as youngsters and by the time they reached their full height of 6’3 it was obvious they had the potential to make a mark on the professional game. But not in England: Ipswich boss Bobby Robson thought the £30,000 price tag a bit on the high side for the teenage Gullit. Rijkaard made the Ajax team as a teenager while Gullit was considered a central defender until he moved to midfield at Feyenoord and eventually striker at PSV, from where he made his reputation at AC Milan alongside his boyhood friend.

Both players were trailblazers in that they established mixed race footballers as part of the European game and they also showed that the finer skills of the game could be combined with athletic power. And like most boyhood pals who made the grade, they seemed to sense where each other were on a football pitch. So maybe the line should be: ‘I’ve never received passes like the ones I did when I was 12. Christ, does anyone?’



sammer

Post Edited (Mon 20 Apr 15:46)
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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: sammer  
Date:   Mon 20 Apr 15:50

Apology to Ian for missing out his photo v Argentina. That game was his first cap and Maradona's first goal for his country.

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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: Buspasspar  
Date:   Mon 20 Apr 15:51

Another cracking post sammer
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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: GG Riva  
Date:   Mon 20 Apr 16:38

Quote:

Buspasspar, Mon 20 Apr 15:51

Another cracking post sammer


Aye, He's Dotnet's finest - absolutely peerless.

Having said that, I've a wee nagging doubt. Was John Lunn not a Townhill boy?



Not your average Sunday League player.
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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: wee eck  
Date:   Mon 20 Apr 16:51

I think you may be right, GGR, although I think the Pars may have signed John from Blairhall Colliery. I remember him playing for Crossgates Primrose as a left-winger. I think that must have been before he joined Blairhall. Willie Callaghan was also attached to CP.
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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: MikeyLeonard  
Date:   Mon 20 Apr 18:54

Quote:

GG Riva, Mon 20 Apr 16:38

Quote:

Buspasspar, Mon 20 Apr 15:51

Another cracking post sammer


Aye, He's Dotnet's finest - absolutely peerless.

Having said that, I've a wee nagging doubt. Was John Lunn not a Townhill boy?


He was GG (my faithers cousin) but he played for Blairhall Colliery before signing for the Pars.
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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: Buspasspar  
Date:   Mon 20 Apr 19:14

Was there a better left back in Scotland back then ?... I don't think so
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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: GG Riva  
Date:   Mon 20 Apr 20:53

Quote:

Buspasspar, Mon 20 Apr 19:14

Was there a better left back in Scotland back then ?... I don't think so


Willie Callaghan and John Lunn arrived as wingers. Jock Stein saw their potential and converted them into overlapping full backs. Already a manager ahead of his time.



Not your average Sunday League player.
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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: Buspasspar  
Date:   Mon 20 Apr 22:03

And what a great conversion G.G. They were top class full backs
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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: GG Riva  
Date:   Tue 21 Apr 20:18

Quote:

Buspasspar, Mon 20 Apr 22:03

And what a great conversion G.G. They were top class full backs


Maybe they weren't that good as wingers. I once had a lad who wanted a chance in the school U-16 team which I ran. He said he was a left winger. He came to training and did OK so I asked him to come on the Saturday morning. Told him he'd be a sub but would get on for part of the game, as I didn't believe in bringing boys along to stand on the touchline, freezing their assets.

Our left back missed his bus and failed to show up. I asked the new lad if he would fill in. "Never played in defence but I'll give it a go" he said. He was sensational, snapping into tackles and launching counter attacks as well as getting up the park on the overlap. Needless to say, he became a permanent fixture in the team which got to the last 8 of the Scottish Cup.



Not your average Sunday League player.
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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: Townsvillepar  
Date:   Tue 21 Apr 20:50

What a great read Sammer...and many thanks. I also love that photo of John Lunn and Roy Barry about to bury Jimmy Johnstone. Both would probably be sent off nowadays for dangerous play!
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 Re: Stand By Me
Topic Originator: sammer  
Date:   Tue 21 Apr 21:10

Any excuse to show it TVP! I've always had a copy on my wall at work overseas and it arouses a great deal of interest.

I think John Lunn was indeed a Townhill lad so I was wrong on Blairhall, although he played for the colliery team. Maybe the article I dimly remember was referencing Charlie Fleming and George Niven who were both Blairhall boys.
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