Back to the future - a Clydebankian odyssey

Last updated : 18 November 2010 By Grandmaster Suck
Well, Yoker really. Which is where the Bankies now play - at Yoker Athletic's Holm Park.

After many ups and downs - run by an absentee owner, losing their ground, going bust, being bought over by Airdrie, being reformed, finding a home in Duntocher, being run by a trust, etc - they now find themselves in Junior ranks in Division One of the Western Region of the SJFA.

When I was growing up the Bankies were in the senior ranks and as the train station was a ten minute walk from my house a few of us had the Bankies as a second team when Rangers were playing away or midweek as it was so cheap to get in and we were all football mad.

We'd usually rendezvous at Westerton station and fire down the line to Kilbowie Park. Depending on the opposition you could normally watch the first half from the side of the ground and then move around to behind one of the goals if that was the way the Bankies were shooting. One end was taken up with the Bankies club and a wee stand - but if my memory serves me you needed to pay and extra quid to get into it so we never bothered.

Big crowds for games against the likes of Hibs in the League Cup provided great atmosphere. More run of the mill games meant you had plenty of space to move around in. From time to time a lynch mob would form and the younger punters would march around to the wee pavilion calling for the Steedman brothers who ran the club to be hung or stoned.

Small ground gave you great opportunity to interact with the players - on one occasion my mate Disky goaded an unfortunate Arbroath full-back (think the Bankies put five past them that night) to the point where he vaulted the wall and chased Disky up the steps while the rest of us scattered over the railway sleepers bolted onto brick supports which passed for seating at that time.

Under the shed there was a bizarre terrace culture. There were two brothers known as "the mice men" who sold white mice on the terraces - I kid you not. Whether these dudes were paedoes trying to induce youngsters into their company or supplying food to a large python-keeping community in East Dunbartonshire I do not know. The sight of grown men in blazers with mice crawling over their shoulders and arms may seem in today's world to be the product of the ingestion of overmuch hallucinogenic but at the time it was merely one of those things that happened in football grounds. So too was the fight over the remnants of Scotch pies by two mongrel dogs - named John Greig and Tommy Gemmell - with snouts which seemed to have been super-charged by evolution to perfectly flip and digest the said pastries.

But the Bankies were not my first love and as the years went on and Rangers away games became part of my routine I saw the Bankies less and less. Couple of younger lads from school kept with it and I see one of them is now the club Secretary and that Goofy (who was in the same BB company) is still a regular.

Interestingly... the Bankies long-serving manager Budgie McGhee was the year above me in school and played in a fantastic Boys Brigade team we had at the 252 (Netherton St Matthews) - it was so good in fact that Budgie used to play in goals rather than the midfield berth he went on to play professionally in.


Again - a wander back in time. On this occasion to my only football medal (now sadly lost). The 252 played in the final of the Boys Brigade Glasgow Battalion Summer Cup. I can't recall now who our opponents were - I do recall that I gave away the penalty which lost us the game.

I normally played left back (despite being right-footed) but got shifted to the right and toppled a guy as he cut inside me. By this time Jed Morrow was in goals and he had no chance saving it - the old Scottish lunacy of a kid playing in a full-sized goal.

The game was also interrupted for a few minutes by a gang fight spilling over into the terraces from the old railway embankment as the Toi and the Fleet went at it.

Ah, Holm Park - it had it all!

The game I'd come to see was a cup tie against East Kilbride. As a day out it wasn't bad despite the light rain - a typical Scottish late autumn afternoon.

A fiver to get in, a quid for the programme and a quid for the half-time draw. The Yoker social club is newly refurbished if you want a pint. The "burger van" sold Bovril for a quid and a roll and square sausage was £1.10.

The Bankies have their own club shop with innovative t-shirts in a converted shipping containers. As the UCS Trust owns the club they sink or swim by their own efforts.

Home attendances, depending on the opposition, are around the 300 to 500 mark. A lot smaller than when they were in the senior ranks but this is a different ball game.

The football in the first half was fine but as the ground got heavier the skill content declined. A one-all draw was decided on 90 minutes by a penalty shootout which went 4-2 in favour of East Kilbride.

The day was enlivened by meeting Jim Hossack. Jim was a film/TV producer and football historian, sadly his health is not good but the mad Hibby loves the game at all levels and I've often bumped into him at obscure games.

He was a great pal of legendary captain George Young and shared some tales with me when I chanced to meet. Such are the people who go to the Juniors.

The crowd that day was just over 200 and a fine exhibition of referee and linesman abuse they gave! A few tins of cider were quietly consumed but no rowdiness or behaviour to give the club a problem. Fair percentage of the crowd were lads in their late teens so I hope that support bodes well for their future.

When we have a spare Saturday due to our fixtures have a day out at the Bankies!