Falkirk

Falkirk

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Neil White, freelance sports journalist

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Journalists' post

I had been to Falkirk games before the final match of the 1985/86 season, but they had been sporadic, part of long-distance visits to my grandparents in Grangemouth, and, though I could never admit it to my dad, I had not yet formed the kind of bond that he had with the team.

This match was different. It was just the two of us on the drive south from Stonehaven, and I can't remember a time before or since when we have been to a game without one or both of my brothers, or my mum. What's more, it was a big game. We needed a result against East Fife at Brockville to make sure of promotion to the Premier Division.

Despite all of that, my memory is not of the game, although I know from the many times I have talked about it with my dad that we drew 2-2 and the goals were scored by Alan Irvine and Willie McGuire, a winger I took an immediate shine too, but who the wider footballing world never fully understood.

What sticks with me is the immediate aftermath of the final whistle, when Brockville burst its banks and the players were engulfed by supporters. We were in the main stand, front row as the noise filled the old structure like a flood.

My dad lifted me up and over the front wall of the stand and dangled me by my arms, my feet hovering six or seven feet above the unforgiving concrete below. He either did not see, or misinterpreted the look of mild panic in my face as, without a word, he dropped me down and I landed with a surprising lack of damage to either ankle.

He waved me into the throng and I was soon getting tumbled dizzily between back-slaps and head-rubs. Suddenly I found myself running alongside one of the players as he made his way to the sanctuary of the tunnel, close enough to reach out and touch his dark blue jersey as he left the pitch. As he disappeared into the dark, I looked up at my old man in the stands and he had a look on his face like it was me who had scored the goal that got Falkirk promoted.

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