Recounting Blessings - Chapter 3
Author(s): John Henderson
Copyright holder(s): John Henderson
Banknock Village – ‘Tanner Ba’ Playin’ an’ a Cuv’
As my reading ability, even as a eight year old, was not quite up to making too much sense of our household’s daily newspaper, ‘The Glasgow Herald’, I cannot say that my first incursions into competitive sport were much encouraged by that medium. However, as I was a keen listener to what my parents had to say about almost anything, and because they willingly taught me how fiddle with our ancient wireless to make it work on the ‘Scottish Home Service’ and the UK-wide ‘Light Programme’, I had relatively rich sources to stimulate my sporting imagination - mostly football then - and otherwise, especially, ‘Dick Barton – Special Agent’ and ‘Auntie’ Kathleen Garscadden’s ‘Children’s Hour’!
Through week-days, my dad was a discriminating wireless listener – he would sit down in his comfy armchair after tea-time to hear the six o’clock news and was invariably sound asleep not long after the headlines! It never ceased to amaze me at that time that he would waken up about twenty minutes later as fresh as paint, and say, with a sheepish smile, ‘Just having my forty winks.’ Then, if it was spring or summer, he would be up and away out to the garden, or else be off to any committee meeting or social function that seemed to programme his after-school daily life of expected community service.
Saturdays were different though, and we could expect him to be around from breakfast until bedtime then. Thus, on Saturday afternoons together, we would listen to the second-half of whatever ‘A’ Division or Scottish Cup or Home International Football match the Home Service might be covering. The roar of the crowds, especially, ‘The Hampden Roar’, was amazing and infectious. The commentators - I think the likes of Peter Thomson even then - painted such vivid images of exciting football - ‘Geordie Young thumps the ball up the park, ‘Torry Gillick slips it out to the right’, ‘Willie Waddell has it now’ … ‘He’s crossing to Willie Thornton’ …..’It’s a goal’! [crowd noise is immense]….. ‘and Rangers go one up’ ! ……Or….. ‘Tanner Ba’ Charlie Tully is running rings round the Rangers’ defence’ … ‘I don’t believe it, he’s just walked it round Bobby Brown’ …. ‘Celtic have equalised’!
A year or so later, cricket Test Matches competed for my attention…. ‘Ugh, the cricket, again’, my mum would say without fail, but with a smile of contented (I think!) resignation! But that’s another story!
If the ‘wireless’ was a real blessing, there was a deal of frustration for me, as a seven year old, in bringing such media stimulated passion for football into reality. The boys in my dad’s Primary 4 and 5 were allocated the top half of the school playground for football with a ‘tanner ba’ tennis ball providing the means of action for their daily nominated ‘coak and hen’ teams. They protected their territory so jealously that no youngster from a lower class, despite his enthusiasm or potential skill, could hope to gain admission to the elite competition. Thus Robin Profit, my equally fitba’ daft pal next door in Bankier Road, and I initially had to be content during school hours with the likes of ‘moshie’ bools games or being sissies with the lassies and their skipping ropes in the lower half of the playground.
However, after school was a different matter because between us Robin and I had a ‘secret weapon’ in the form of a Size 5 leather ‘cuv’!
The provision of this hallowed article allowed us entry with great alacrity into similarly arranged matches to the school ones on the adjacent waste ground beside the Streetville council flats. And if things got a wee bit tousy from the variety of ‘big-yins’ who would muscle into such evening confrontations, we could always say, ‘It’s oor ba’ an’ we’re goin’ hame’!
In such unfortunate circumstances Robin and I resorted to interminable games of ‘heiders’ or ‘penalty shoot-outs’ down the gable-end driveway of his house where gate and garage door providing handy and easily identifiable goal-posts …. Until my dad, with genuine school-masterly perception, noting our occasional problems as wee ones amidst the Streetville crowd, as well as our admirable improvisations, offered us private access to, and use of for ‘real’ football, the unkempt school-garden ground lying between the schoolhouse and the school. But, it was only for the two of us, which handicap, if it was such at our age, we were only to glad to accept. Thus, ‘Bumpy Ibrox’ was born.
Apart from hosting many other sports ‘events’ in due course, it was the ‘stadium’ which housed numerous one-a-side matches between ‘John or Robin’s Rangers’ versus John or Robin’s Celtic or Hearts or Hibs or Falkirk or whoever’. Toss of the coin of course decided who would get his preferred team in any of these encounters, which seldom finished in the regulation ninety minutes, but, particularly at the week-end, could rage on (with numerous half-times for drinks, or interruptions to mend the punctured bladder inside the ball) until either dusk or parental shouts to come in out of the rain called for a final whistle – which incidentally we always blew with due ceremony, unless exceptionally when my sister Elizabeth had been prevailed upon by both of us to referee because mutual agreement on fouls etc. had been severely threatening our continuing friendship!
Saturday was the exception – the wireless beckoned for both of us about four o’clock, and thereafter, for all the years Robin and I were close friends, we would get together in his house for the wireless ‘Sports Report’ results at half-past five, his mum’s delicious high-tea and cream cakes, then ‘Sportsreel’, then ‘The McFlannels’ until the start of board-games time, with both his mum and dad taking full part, was signalled by the sounds of ‘Kate Dalrymple’ introducing ‘Scottish Country Dance Music’. Bless them all, especially the Profits, but not forgetting Marjorie Dalziel (aka Mrs McCotton) with whom I had the pleasure later on in life to work alongside as stage manager in Gargunnock Amateur Dramatic Club.
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Recounting Blessings - Chapter 3. 2020. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved September 2020, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=760.
"Recounting Blessings - Chapter 3." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2020. Web. September 2020. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=760.
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