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Michael White


I was nine then. Every Saturday, I went to Brockville Park with my grandfather, who was about 76 at that time, and was a stickler for routine. Same steam train. Same visits to aged aunt. Same pre-match pie and Bovril. Same mystic conversations and strange handshakes with friends and acquaintances. Same embarrassment as we crossed busy roads. Same close-of-play routine - but more of that later.

February 9, 1957 was the day it all happened. It was the day I saw the light and it was to change my football life forever. After only one minute, we were 1-0 down. By half-time Falkirk had recovered and actually led 2-1 through two goals by Merchant.

East Fife pulled a goal back through a very soft penalty and I heard words that afternoon whose meaning escaped me. My grandfather always insisted we leave early “to avoid the rush”, although he never realised that there were people on the train with us who had actually seen the whole game.

Anyway, we returned home and as always, my doting grandmother had the traditional Saturday tea ready. When asked how we had got on, my grandfather said rather disappointedly that we had only managed to draw 2-2 and that wasn’t any good in a relegation battle.

As we tucked away the bacon, sausage and egg tea, the familiar strains of Sports Report came over the crackly old radio. The announcer read the results in an impeccable Oxford English accent. “Scottish League, Division One.... “ We waited and waited and then it came to our result. Falkirk 4 ....voice drops an octave.... East Fife 3. Seven goals! And we had only seen four of them.

That was it! From that day onwards, I stayed to the end, often the bitter end - and occasionally the bitter, bitter end. I have never, ever deserted the cause. I have seen us ship six, seven, eight and even nine goals and I have never given in.

In hindsight, I know I owe my allegiance to Falkirk to the influence of that old man. Without him and his wonderfully strange ways, I would probably have given up long before now.

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