ONE fan among the large support from Nairn at Broadwood Stadium on Saturday was local journalist and author of the biography of Nairn County hero of the 1960’s Davy Johnston.
As the team prepares for what promises to be a mouthwatering replay at Station Park on Saturday (October 6) Donald looks back on Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Clyde and reflects on Nairn’s last major foray in the Scottish Cup.
“I was a bit young to remember the great games against Hamilton Accies in the Scottish Cup 1963. But the 1986 Scottish Cup run was memorable in itself not just for the fact the team created a bit of history, but because it was a team cobbled together by manager Mansell Craig from the amateur and welfare ranks.
“We drew 1-1 with Scottish League newcomers Meadowbank Thistle and beat them in the replay in Edinburgh 2-1 in a howling gale to secure a historic third round tie at Nairn against First Division side Dundee.
“The game was played in front of 2.300 fans and I think looking back even Mansell would admit that the biggest mistake Nairn made was before a ball was even kicked in that game. The pitch had been frost bound for days and a squad of volunteers led by Mansell made a sterling effort to get the playing surface playable. The stark reality was the surface was dangerous but after a morning inspection the nod was given for the game to go ahead. The Dundee players were clad in the type of boots players use today on synthetic surfaces and the Nairn players struggled to keep their feet and were well and truly humped 7-0.
“One of the players in the Dundee line-up that day of course was the current Clyde manager Jim Duffy. The Dundee manager Archie Knox, was furious that the match had ever been allowed to go ahead. When Jim inspects the current playing surface before the gloves come off on Saturday I’m sure he will not believe Station Park is the same pitch he played on 26 years ago. His assistant at Clyde of course is Chic Charnely who can expect some pelters from his mates whom he worked with at McDermotts in the 1980s. Chic also played for their works team in the Nairn Welfare League.
“This Saturday it would be great to think Nairn can raise a four figure crowd for the replay against Clyde. I was on a bus-load of die-hard County fans who travelled to Broadwood on Saturday. It was a great day out – pity the colourful language can’t be eradicated though!. The three Nairn goals two by Conor Gethins and one by Greg Main were sublime. Conor’s first was an outstanding strike that nearly took the roof off the stand where 150 Nairn fans were gathered but Easter’s strike was one to behold and will be talked about for years to come by those who witnesses it.
“Having covered Nairn County’s matches as journalist between 1971 and 1997 for the Nairnshire Telegraph and other publications I enjoy today the passion of just being a fan. I’m often asked the 64,000 dollar question of how the current teams compares with the 76 title winning side. I’m going to stick my neck out and make the following observation. The team Les Fridge has moulded contains more players of real class. The goals for column last season tells its own story with nearly 100 goals in the league alone. But the championship winning team of ‘76 was a team with an ‘all for one and one for all’ mentality with a resolute and unforgiving defence which saw them through many a battle. They were a ‘team’ in every sense of the word.
“Two or three seasons ago there was criticism from the terracing that Nairn could be too defensive. That can’t be said of them today. They are a thoroughly entertaining side to watch with goals coming from all quarters of the pitch.
“At Broadwood they were in the lead three times and were pegged back by Clyde who finished the stronger side. I hope we don’t have to go through the same agonies on Saturday.
“Just as an aside, it ‘s always nice when you travel in the Scottish Cup to see faces in the crowd of Nairn exiles you haven’t seen for years. Gordon Thompson, Jim Logan and Alastair Smith were just some of the kent faces in the stand and no doubt they’ll be hear today for the replay.”
Travelling fans rewarded
Nairn County have rewarded their travelling fans with a donation from their 50-50 club towards bus travel costs.
In return 25 fans on the bus to Clyde pledged to join the 50-50 at a cost of £1 a month – everyone’s a winner!