Brechin City: 1906-1920, the Early Years
By ALEX. WOOD
CHAPTER 11 A FEW MORE BRECHIN FOOTBALLING SOLDIERS
One of the noted patrons of Brechin Hearts Junior FC was George Gallacio. George Gallacio, the original proprietor of Gallacio’s ice cream parlour in the High Street, Brechin, served in the 1914-18 war. George Gallacio was of course the father of Cardo Gallacio, a long-time member of theBrechinCity board and himself a juvenile footballer in the inter-war years.
The vice-president of Brechin Hearts in that last pre-war season was David Lindsay Barclay, cousin of Walter Fowler. He was re-elected vice-president for 1914-15 at the AGM of Brechin Hearts on 29th May 1914. David Barclay was born in Union Street in Brechin on 1st August 1890, the son of Robert Barclay and Elizabeth Barclay (neeLindsay). David Barclay was a baker to trade. He served with Black Watch in the Egyptian Expeditionary Force during the war. After the war David Barclay lived inGlasgow until his death in 1930. His son, Robert (Bobby) Barclay, a postman, lived in Brechin until his death in the 1990s.
One of the Hearts Committee members in 1913-14 was W Reid. Walter Reid appears on the Brechin war memorial. Walter Reid was born at Burnside of Keithock, just beyond Trinity, on 17th January 1881. He was the son of Alexander Reid, butcher and cattle dealer, and of Ann Reid (nee Gray). By 1891 his father had remarried, his mother presumably having died, and had moved in to Brechin, residing at 16 St Mary Street, where Walter was noted as a scholar on the census. Private Walter Reid, of Auchmull, was killed on 28 September 1918 serving with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. His service number was 3055074. He is buried at Mill Switch British Cemetery, Tilloy-les-Cambrai in France. He is noted as having been “formerly in the office of C & W Anderson, solicitors”. It is not clear at what point he emigrated to Canada, where it is assumed he enlisted. No trace has been found of him on the 1901 census in Angus. The report of his death in The Brechin Advertiser, makes no mention of any football connection. It is uncertain whether the W Reid who served on the committee of Brechin Hearts was the same Walter Reid who died serving in 1918.
BRECHIN ARNOT FC
Brechin Arnot is one of the clubs whose status as juveniles or juniors is somewhat debatable. At least two photographs of Brechin Arnot Football Club, with the players named, have been located.
Brechin Arnot, 1903-04
One of these shows the team of 1903-04. In it Arnot FC is noted as ‘Juvenile Cup Holders 1903-04’. One of the clearly identified members of that team is Colin Hampton who would have been 15 at the time.
Possible Arnot 1903-04 Casualties
That photograph includes two lads, J Gordon and G Milne, whose names coincide with names on Brechin’s War memorial. On the memorial are recorded James W N Gordon, John S Gordon and George Milne. James W N Gordon was 20 when he was killed in 1915 and was therefore born in 1895. George Milne was 21 when he was killed in 1918 and was therefore born in 1897. It is impossible therefore for either of them to have played in the Arnot team of 1903-04.
John S Gordon is noted (Brechin and the Great War) as having been killed in October 1917 and being about 30 years of age. That would give a date of birth of about 1887 and would be consistent with his having played in the Arnot team in 1903-04. He alone therefore is a possible Arnot player and casualty of the war.
John S Gordon
John Strachan Gordon was born on 5th August 1887 at 8 Damacre Road, Brechin, the son of William Gordon, linen factory worker, and Elizabeth Lyall Gordon (nee Strachan). On the 4th January 1916 he married Helen Bremner in Brechin. He was then residing at 6 Crocket’s Buildings and was himself noted as a linen factory worker.
According to Brechin and the Great War, Private John S Gordon of the Royal Scots, son of Mr W Gordon of Crocket’s Buildings, was posted missing on 22nd October 1917 and was, a year later, officially reported to have been killed at that date. Before joining up he was employed at the Denburn works and his widow resided at 135 River Street. A younger brother, Private William Gordon, one of the local Territorials, was killed in action on 14th October 1916.
John Gordon is also however noted on the Denburn Roll of Honour as having been a private in The Black Watch (rather than the Royal Scots), as having left the Denburn Works in June 1916, as having been posted missing and killed in October 1917. Although therefore the regiments noted on the two sources are different, all the other details being consistent, it is reasonable to assume that whether John Gordon served in the Royal Scots or the Black Watch, there was only one John Gordon from Brechin who died in October 1917. To complicate matters even further however, no trace of his burial or memorial has been found on the Commonwealth Graves Commission’s Debt of Honour web-site.
It remains uncertain whether the John S Gordon who died in October 1917 was the J Gordon who played for Arnot in 1903-04 although in his case the dates are consistent.
Brechin Arnot – somewhat later
The second photograph of Arnot is taken some years later. None of the players from the first photograph are in the second. It is likely that Arnot was continuing to operate as a juvenile club at this stage since one of the two pieces of silverware illustrated in the photograph is the American Cup, the trophy for which Brechin juvenile clubs competed.
It shows (second from left, front row) the Walter Fowler who later played for Brechin Hearts andBrechinCityand who was killed in 1917.
Kneeling first left in the front row, immediately to the left of Walter Fowler, in the Arnot photograph is Will Soutter. William Farquhar Ferrier Soutter was born at 24 River Street, Brechin on 19th December 1886. He was the son of David Soutter, lapper in a linen factory, and Jane Soutter (nee Ferrier). By 1891 the family had moved to Crockett’s Buildings and by1901 to 175 Montrose Street, both Brechin. At that point the 14 year old Will was employed in a flax mill. He married Isa Gourlay on Hogmanay 1909, when he was noted as Linen Factory worker, residing in Southesk Terrace.
He served as a private with The Black Watch during the 1914-18 War, having left Denburn Works, likely to enlist, in August 1915. He was gassed in March 1918. After the war he returned to Brechin and to Duke’s works, where he was employed as a tenter. At some point he worked inIndia.
More Possible Arnot Casualties
The photograph also shows J Graham, A Stewart and J Strachan. The war memorial contains the names John Graham, Alfred Stewart, James Strachan and James H Strachan.
John Graham was born at 18 Southesk Terrace, Brechin, on the 18th May 1889. (Coincidentally, the address of his birth is exactly the same as that of John Walker who was born in 18 Southesk Terrace in 1892.) He was the son of John Graham, slater, and Maggie Graham, nee Forbes. By 1891 his family had moved to Bridge Street. He is noted on Brechin’s Roll of Honour as resident at 17 Union Street, Brechin, the same address at which his father was residing at the time of the registration of his grave.
He was killed aged 28 on 25th July 1918 serving with the 1st Black Watch. His Service Number was 12618. He is buried in Sailly-Labourse Communal Cemetery Extension in France. The report of his death in The Brechin Advertiser (6 August 1918) however, makes no mention of any football connection. Nonetheless, if the later photograph of Arnot is of a juvenile team, it would be entirely consistent for John Graham, born in 1889, to have been playing in the same team as Walter Fowler and Will Soutar. Nonetheless it remains unproved that the J Graham in the photograph of Arnot is the John Graham killed in 1918.
Alfred James Scott or Williamson or Stewart was born on the 21st October 1888 at 12 City Road, Brechin. His mother was Jane Williamson, a linen factory worker. John Stewart, who is noted as his father on the Commonwaelth Graves Commission’s Debt of Honour web-site and on his marriage certificate appears to have been his step-father. In 1891 Alfred was residing with his mother and with Jane Williamson, his grandmother, at 13 Clerk Street, Brechin. In 1901 he was residing with his mother and step-father and half-brothers and –sisters at 27 Union Street, Brechin. John Stewart and his wife, Jane Stewart, nee Williamson, were residing at 8 Bridge Street, Brechin, at the time of the registration of Alfred Stewart’s grave. Alfred Stewart was the husband of Jean Stewart, nee Walker. They had married at Farnell on the 25th of August 1915. At that point they were both resident in the Commercial Hotel, Brechin, where he was the Boots and she was a cook.
Private Alfred James Stewart of 8 Bridge Street, Brechin, was killed on 19th July 1918 and was serving with the 8th (Service) Battalion of The Black Watch with the service number 268216. He is buried atMeterenMilitaryCemetery inFrance.
The report of his death in The Brechin Advertiser makes no mention of any football connection. Again, with a date of birth in 1888, it is consistent for this Alfred Stewart to have been playing juvenile football in the same team as Walter Fowler and Will Soutar, but, again, definite proof has not been ascertained that the A Stewart who played for Arnot was the Alfred Stewart killed in July 1918.
James Strachan was born on 4th January 1885 at5 Glamis Road, Forfar, son of James Strachan, linen factory worker, and Mary Allan Strachan, nee Edward.
Private James Strachan of Newington House, Brechin, is noted as having died of Pneumonia in Palestineduring November 1918 while serving with the Black Watch. The Debt of Honour web-site notes him as having served with the 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch, his service number as S/21431, his parents as James and Mary Strachan of 3 McGregor’s Lands, Roods, Kirriemuir, and his place of burial as Beirut War Cemetery.
This may or may not be the J Strachan who played for Arnot but if Arnot was a juvenile team at the time of the second photograph it is stretching the boundaries slightly for this James Strachan to have played along with Walter Fowler and Will Soutar.
James Hampton Strachan
James Hampton Strachan was born on the 18th of March 1896 at 2Wilson’s Park,Damacre Road, Brechin, the son of James Hampton Strachan, joiner, and Helen Strachan, nee Eaton.
Gunner James H Strachan was killed aged 22 on 6th June 1918 while serving with the Royal Field Artillery (H.Q. 95th Brigade). His Service Number was 650659. He had enlisted in October 1915, having previously been employed in the Brechin Branch of the Royal Bank. His address was Wilson’s Park.
At the time of the registration of his grave his parents’ address was given as 43 Park Road, Brechin. He is buried in Marfaux British Cemetery, France. The fairly detailed report of his death in The Brechin Advertiser once again however, makes no mention of any football connection. Moreover it is almost impossible, given his date of birth, that he could have been playing juvenile football for Brechin Arnot within the time scale of the extant photograph.
He was however the 3rd cousin of Colin Hampton. They had common great, great grandparents in John Hampton, handloom weaver, and Barbara Stewart who were raising their family in Brechin in the 1790s.
From Arnot to City and to the States (via the Hearts)
The centre half in the later Arnot photograph is a J Hetherington. (The outside left is also a J Hetherington.) BrechinCity’s centre half in the immediately pre-war and early-war years was Heatherington or Hetherington, likely the same player.
The same photograph shows as the Arnot’s centre forward one J Sherritt. The Brechin Advertiser carries a fascinating article in February 1914. “Footballers here will be interested to learn how a former Brechin player has been faring in theUnited States. Jack Sherrit, late of Brechin Hearts, went out toSt Louis,Mo., with the Fall River Rovers to play in a three game series. The teams out west were not affiliated with the U.S.A.F.A., so when Jack got back toBoston the Association suspended him for a year. TheBoston team with which he played will miss him badly, and the cup ties are just starting.”
(David Easson was to die suddenly at the Co-operative Bakery in Carnoustie, where he was employed, in 1940.)
A FEW QUESTION MARKS
Of the 298 names on the Brechin War Memorial there may be a greater number with footballing connections than have been confirmed for this article. The following are Brechin soldiers who are noted as having played football but whose club connections have not yet been traced.
Seargeant D W Vallentine of the Machine Gun Corps is noted as having been “well known as a local footballer”.
David Willocks Vallentine was the son of John Vallentine, stone quarrier, and Jessie Vallentine, nee Stott, and was born on 6 May 1896at 109 River Street, Brechin. By 1901 the family had moved to 83 River Street. He was called up with the local territorials (5th Black Watch) when war broke out. He was a private when he volunteered for foreign service in early November 1914 and accompanied his battalion toFrance in November 1914, thus holding the Mons Star.
He was wounded on 9 May 1915and rejoined his unit on 24 May. He afterwards transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, had been three times wounded and had been awarded the Military Medal. His Service Number was 23061. He returned to the front from leave in Brechin only six days before he was killed on 26th October 1918 while serving with the 51st Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps. This Battalion had been constituted in February 1918 by amalgamating the three Machine Gun Corps companies attached to the 51st Highland Division. David Valentine’s widowed mother resided at81 River Street. He had formerly been employed at the Valley Works.
The history of the early years of Brechin City Football Club brings together three quite separate strands: Scottish football in its formative years, Brechin’s local story and the 1914-18 War. Many of Scotland’s small town clubs of that period have either gone out of business of downgraded to Junior status. It is to the enormous credit of the people of Brechin that the traditions of these early years, of maintaining a club and a team punching at a level above what metropolitan Scotland expects, are continued. This brief story seeks to pay tribute to those early pioneers who made our current club what it is today, a beacon of sporting sanity in a world where the naked cash nexus seems too often to rule.
BUILDING THE ARCHIVE
The author of this article would be glad to hear any information which corrected, improved or enhanced any of the information given here and would be delighted to hear of any readers who have documents, photographs, articles or simply memories or knowledge of any of the names mentioned or of any other Brechin footballing connections with the 1914-18 War. The author can be contacted at:
Any such material will be used to supplement this article.
The major sources for this work were:
Adams, David G: The Kirn Poke o’ Brechin, Chanonry Press, Brechin (1986)
Adams, David G: The Brechin Bran Tub, Chanonry Press, Brechin (1987)
Adams, David G: The Brechin Rag-Bag, Chanonry Press, Brechin (1988)
Adams, David G: The Brechin Lucky Dip, Chanonry Press, Brechin (1989)
Alexander, Jack: McCrae’s Battalion, Mainstream, Edinburgh (2003)
Carr, William: A Time to Leave the Ploughshares, London (1985)
Cheshire, Scott: Chelsea, A Complete Record 1905-1991, Breedon Books (1991)
Crampsey, Bob: The Scottish Football League, the First 100 Years, SFL, Glasgow (1990)
Cumming, George: Through the Years with Brechin City FC, Simmath Press, Dundee (1948)
Falls, Cyril: History of the Great War, France and Belgium, 1917
Gibbs, Philip: The War Dispatches, Tandem, London (1968)
Gourlay, David M.A.: A Brechin Eleven and A Printer’s Dozen
Hampton, W: Collection of Colin Hampton Memorabilia (including medals, press cuttings and photographs)
Lynch, Michael: Scotland, A New History, Pimlico, London (1992)
McArra, Kevin: Scottish Football, a Pictorial History, Edinburgh (1984)
McLeod, Rod: 100 Years of Scottish Football, STV, Glasgow (1973)
Price, Norrie: Up Wi’ The Bonnets, N Price, Aberdeen (1993)
Smailes, Gordon, Scottish Football Records, Derby (1995)
Smout, T.C.: A Century of the Scottish People, 1830-1950, Fontana, London (1997)
Swinburne, John: Motherwell Football Club, 1886-1999, Tempus, Stroud (1999)
Wilkie, Jim: Across the Great Divide, Mainstream (1984)
Wood, Alex.: Collection of Walter Fowler memorabilia (including medals, photographs and Brechin Hearts membership card)
The Brechin Almanac 1918
The Brechin Almanac 1920
Brechin and The Great War 1918 (Brechin Advertiser, February 1919)
The Brechin Advertiser
The Courier and Argus
The London Gazette
D & R Duke, Denburn Works, Roll of Honour, Brechin (1919?)
Relichtie Arbroath FC fans’ website
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Debt of Honour web-site
The County of Angus Roll of Honour http://vzone.virgin.net/ian.edwards2/index.htm
Corstorphine, James K: The East Fife Football Historian website
Dundee United FC website
Fulham FC website
Loons Mad, independent Forfar Athletic fans website
The National Archives, Documents on Line, for World War One medal lists
McColl, Brian: Scottish Football Encyclopaedia website
Parker, Jim: Machine Gun Corps Research website
Ross, James M: Scotland – List of Qualifying Cup Winners, website
Tangerine Dream, independent Dundee United fans website
WELLnet, Motherwell FC website
Birth Certificates were traced for most mentioned men and marriage certificates for several via Scotland’s People, the web site for the General Register Office for Scotland, from which were also traced census entries
In addition the following individuals and institutions were of enormous assistance in compiling the material on which this article was based and their efforts and support is acknowledged with gratitude:
Chelsea Football Club (Claire Lait);
Crystal Palace Football Club (Rev Nigel Sands);
Dundee Football Club (David Forbes);
Dundee United Football Club (Mike Watson and Steve Gracie);
Bill and Agnes Hampton, Brechin;
Jenny Hill, The Brechin Advertiser;
James Livie, Brechin;
Ken Macaskill, of Edinburgh and formerly of Brechin
Steve Mitchell, Editor, Brechin City Programme and Director, Brechin City FC;
Jack Souter, Luthermuir;
The Staff, Brechin Public Library;
The Staff, The National Library of Scotland.