I picked two pretty obscure clubs to blog about this time, but I have to say I enjoyed researching them, although there’s not much out there. If anybody has anything to add to this blog, or just corrections, don’t hold back…
I became aware of the villages when I started youth hostelling with my mates before I left school. One year we got the bus to Perth and walked to Birnam, where there was a hostel in an old schoolhouse, but this has now been demolished. I had a look for it last year when we were up in Dunkeld for a Saw Doctors concert. In those days the A9 passed through nearly every village and it’s remarkable to think about it now, when you can drive from Edinburgh to Inverness in under 3 hours.
Back to the youth hostelling trip and I got served my first pint at the Royal Dunkeld Hotel. The following evening I had my first experience of getting absolutely pished at the Perth Arms in Dunkeld, and then trying to sneak back into the hostel before lights out even though my legs weren’t working properly. I had a look there last week before the Luncarty game and the pub was vaguely familiar, but now they had excellent beers by the Strathbraan Brewery, rather than Drybrough’s Heavy or whatever back in the 70s.
Bankfoot Athletic were formed in 1919 and played at Coronation Park in Bankfoot. They had a less than illustrious history. They did win a few local cups, but the high point was probably 2001, when they finished as Tayside Div 1 champions, and were promoted to the Tayside Premier, but they were relegated a year later. In 2006-7 the leagues were reorganised and Bankfoot were placed in the East Region, Central Division.
At the end of 2012-13 they went into abeyance for a year due to lack of committee, but sadly haven’t returned. Notable ex-players are Paul Sturrock and Jim Weir.
The photo below shows Coronation Park in 2016.
I visited Coronation Park in 2003 to see Caledonian in a pre-season friendly, which they won 2-1. The ambulance on the pitch is due to Caley’s midfielder, Danny MacDonald, suffering a recurrence of a knee injury within 1 minute of kickoff. A sad waste as Danny was an excellent talent.
Below: the same view in 2016
Luncarty JFC were formed in 1886 by employees of Luncarty bleachworks, which itself had been going since 1732 and must have been the major employer in the village. They joined the Junior setup in 1921. Like Bankfoot they have a long list of local cups won.
The Bleachers also finished second in the Tayside Div 1 in 2005-6 and would have entered the Premier but for reorganisation, and, along with Bankfoot, were placed in the East Region, Central Division, where they finished 6th out of 12, with Bankfoot bottom.
They play at Brownlands Park which is on the main road, and is bounded on the west by the embankment carrying the main Perth-Inverness railway, with the rest of the village being to the east. I had passed the ground many times as I used to go kayaking at Stanley, and was dismayed to hear the club had gone into abeyance at the end of season 2014-15, but as they returned in 2016-17 I was able to get to a game recently. Visiting the ospreys at Loch of the Lowes I was able to make a day of it, and grab a pint at the previously-mentioned Perth Arms in Dunkeld before the 7 pm kickoff.
This season the Bleachers have had a decent run in the Scottish Junior Cup. They disposed of Fraserburgh Utd, Rosyth and Cumbernauld, the latter a creditable 3-1 win away at Guy’s Meadow. In the last 16 they got the draw nobody wants, away at Beechwood Park to the juggernaut that is Auchinleck Talbot, where they went down 4-0.
Arriving at the park I was impressed by the facilities, the social club, and the pies, of which I had two. Don’t be fooled by the sunny photo above, which was taken last summer. On the night it was drizzly and dark and my camera was struggling to cope with any movement of the players.
The Bleachers were playing league leaders Kirriemuir Thistle and were soon a goal down. However it remained 1-0 at half time with Luncarty giving as good as they got. They were dealt two fatal blows soon after half time. Kirrie’s second seemed to be well offside and the referee appeared to be in the ‘near retirement’ category. A third goal followed immediately and effectively killed the game. Luncarty battled on and got two goals, going down rather undeservedly 3-2 in the end. The attendance was about 60.
The 3 points effectively made Kirrie champions due to their superior goal difference over second-placed Thornton Hibs. Both will be playing in the East Premier next season.
While it’s unlikely that Bankfoot and Luncarty ever had a local derby to rival the Old Firm, there must have been some tussles over the years. I found one account here – SJFA article from Mud and Glory