Ex-Formartine duo’s cup glory with Oldmeldrum by Peter Myers
When Formartine United lifted the North of Scotland (Amateur) Cup in 1960 it was the crowning glory of their last season as a members of the Aberdeenshire Amateur Football Association before they stepped up to the Aberdeenshire Junior League. Two members of the successful team who beat Sandhaven 3-2 would also be in the Oldmeldrum side which won the same trophy two years later. Inside-forward Dougie Sutherland and half-back Bert Low had been regular members in the Formartine side during their first season in the Junior League and their move to Oldmeldrum helped strengthen that team.
Ellon United were top dogs in Division I of the Aberdeenshire AFA and their matches were fully reported in the Ellon & District Advertiser which faithfully charted their progress to winning the championship, finishing five points ahead of Cove Rangers. Ellon scored 107 goals into the bargain with ever-present George Duncan netting an incredible 53 in 24 games.
Oldmeldrum finished sixth in Division I in 1961-62 with 27 points from 24 games although the team scored as many goals as they conceded – 63 for and 66 against. Local man Doug Smith, who had played for Formartine in the club’s early years, coached the Meldrum team who included his future son-in-law, full-back Denis Kessack, who married his daughter, Maureen, in 1963. Local painter and decorator Doug Petrie was also involved in running the team.
Formartine’s departure for the Junior League meant that Ellon United’s derby matches were now against Oldmeldrum and their first clash of season 1961-62 was on December 23 at Ellon. D.L. Halliday, the Ellon & District Advertiser’s football correspondent, seemed rather bored by this encounter in which “defences were on top” and resulted in “a lot of midfield play”. Meldrum’s defenders were well-marshalled by centre-half Eddie Ellington as they thwarted United’s attackers from finding the net. Meldrum goalkeeper Alistair Sim, who later played for Formartine, was kept busy and was lucky after fumbling a shot from George Duncan. Finnie moved in to take advantage but Sim managed to scramble the ball away.
Oldmeldrum’s Philip almost opened the scoring just before the break but his shot went wide. Team-mate Billy (Bingo) Morrison rounded Ellon keeper McDonald and “shot for an empty goal but somehow I. Thomson managed to clear off the line for a corner”. Ellon lay siege to the Meldrum goal but were repelled by “a stuffy defence”. A pass in midfield from Ellon’s W. Thomson to Cowieson was intercepted, “leaving Ellon’s defence wide open”. Mackie punished the mistake by scoring the game’s only goal and giving Oldmeldrum a narrow victory.
The return derby match was at Oldmeldrum in March 1962 and was in stark contrast to the previous encounter. Ellon won 7-3 in a game which had plenty of thrills and spills to entertain the spectators. Dougie Sutherland played “a great game” for Meldrum as he harassed the Ellon defence. The home side were two goals down when Sutherland’s shot was deflected for a corner from which there was a scramble for the ball. Bert Low “cleverly trapped the ball near the penalty spot, swung round and beat Mitchell with a hard shot”. Ellon hit back with two quick goals to increase their lead to 4-1. Meldrum soon replied when inside-left Bob McWhinnie took a pass and strode forward unchallenged to fire home from the edge of the penalty area. Sutherland then crossed for outside-left Robertson to head past Mitchell. Meldrum centre-forward Billy Morrison was hurt after a clash with Mitchell and had to go off for treatment.
Ellon began to turn the screw in the second half and Meldrum right-back Mollison had to resort to desperate measures when he booted a Finnie cross high over his goal’s bar. A shot by Morgan was blocked by Meldrum keeper Sim but Finnie was on the spot to shoot the rebound home. George Duncan completed his hat-trick with a header while team-mate W. Thomson administered the coup de grace by side-footing a Duncan pass past Sim.
The match may have been a sobering experience for Oldmeldrum but they redeemed themselves in May by reaching the final of the North of Scotland (Amateur) Cup after beating CD & S Sports Club in the semi-final. A demolition of the Aberdeen University team, in which Robertson netted five goals, in a league match set them up nicely for the clash with Cove Rangers, who had eliminated Ellon United in their semi-final. Cove had already won the Aberdeen FC Trophy and were confident of another cup triumph.
The final took place at Banchory on Saturday, May 26, with an evening kick-off. Oldmeldrum’s team was drawn from D. Low, Kessack, Ingram, A. Low, Ellington, Anderson, Sutherland, Morrison, Robertson, Fraser, White and Pirie, while Cove’s team was from Forsyth, Christie, Duncan, Steel, Napier, Brown, Still, Carrol, Taylor, Robertson, Forbes and Ring.
Meldrum may have been the underdogs but beat Cove 3-1 to lift the trophy. Centre-half Eddie Ellington was hailed as man of the match by his performance in keeping a tight rein on Taylor, Cove’s prolific goalscorer. Meldrum’s goals came from Dougie Sutherland, Billy Morrison and an own goal from centre-half Napier, while Christie got a consolation goal for Cove. The North of Scotland (Amateur) Cup and plaques were presented by Mr T. Barclay-Cook, honorary vice-president of the Aberdeenshire AFA. The following week Dougie Sutherland was again in action at Banchory but this time for a County Select who took on a Town Select for the Barclay-Cook Trophy.
As a footnote, Denis Kessack’s son, Rodney, also shone as a footballer, playing in a North of Scotland schoolboys’ team and for Inverurie Loco Works under-19s.
Back from left, Denis Kessack, Henry Milne, George Anderson, Alastair Sim, Unknown, Eddie Ellington.
Front from left, Unknown, Peter Bremner, Alec Cruickshank, Billy Morrison, Unknown.