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Stewart McPherson tracks Down Vale players of the days gone by
Name Alfie Smith
Date of Birth 26 Aug 1953
Occupation Director of recruitment consultancy in Aberdeen
Briefly outline your football career prior to joining Deveronvale
2 seasons with Deeside in Aberdeen Youth League and 1 season with Buchanhaven Hearts.
Which year(s) did you play for Deveronvale? Who signed you for the club, and what attracted you to join ??
Signed (I think!) in either 1974 or 1975 by Frank Armstrong and another gentleman (the name escapes me!) - both total 'gentlemen'. It was through the late George Bagshaw (who I shall be eternally grateful, god rest his soul) that I managed to get a trial for the Vale. George spoke highly of the Vale saying they were a really friendly club, which proved to be correct.
What are your fondest memories of playing for Vale ?
"Scoring a goal against Caley at Telford Street (Vale got beat 4-1) was one highlight as Caley had a great team then and were virtually unbeatable at home. Also, made a goal for Jocky Wilson to score against my home town team of Peterhead at Banff (Vale won 4-0) - ran the length of the pitch and crossed with my left foot (usually for standing on!!) for Jocky to score with a header.
Quite amusing (although I'm sure not for Alan!!) watching Alan Scott play cards on the bus to away matches and losing a hell of a lot of money going to the matches and also coming home!! Also amusing to see Johnny Mackie drink vodka straight!! Many friends in the Vale team - Jocky Wilson, George Bagshaw, Norrie McBain, Zane Watt, Johnny Mackie, Brian Stewart, Willie Flett, Brian Mercer etc.
"
What is the most memorable game you played in for Vale ?
As above for memorable matches. In addition, my debut for the Vale against the Broch at Bellslea when Broch had a great team - we drew 1-1. Also the testimonial game Vale had against Hibs (they sent up a strong team - Pat Stanton, Alex Edwards etc.) for the late George Bagshaw - I think the Vale lost 6-0 that day, but the result was not important.
Who were the characters at the club ?
Big Martin Allan (another one to so tragically lose his life) was some character - he was a likeable rogue who seemed to attract trouble in the local dance halls - perhaps the Banffers did not take to his Cockney humour!! The fans were great to me at the Vale.
And who were the best players you played with ?
There were some talented lads at the Vale in my time but probably Willie Flett stood out - he was a truly gifted and skilful player but, unfortunately, Willie did not have a lot of pace and was not consistent enough, but what skill he had.
And who were the best players you played against ?
There were many great players in the Highland League then - each team seemed to have at least 5 or 6 players with great skills - sadly lacking today - most teams have very fit 'athletes'.
To mention a few, Titchy Black, Brian D'Arcy and Charlie Duncan of Inverness Thistle, Ray Mackintosh, John Allison and Charlie Kennedy of Clach, big John Sievwright of Peterhead (best man at my wedding and a great friend), Brian Newlands, John Duthie, Davie Mackenzie, Bertie Bowie of the Broch, Keith Nicol and Gerry Graham of Elgin, John Curran, Mike Winton of Keith.
All of these players had either great skill or pace, or both! Charlie Duncan was probably the hardest and most physical player I have ever played against - biggest thighs in football - when you were tackled by Charlie, you stayed tackled!!  One player who always gave me a hard time was Johnny Slater of Forres, a wily old fox, tough as nails who could leave his boot in where it hurt!
What have you done in a football sense since you left the Vale ?
After Vale, had 2 seasons with Peterhead, 2 seasons with Fraserburgh and one season with Forres. After seriously damaging ankle ligaments twice in a year (once with Broch and once with Forres), had to pack up playing football.
Thereafter, managed Buchanhaven Hearts for half a season (resigned because of committee interference!!), tried a player/manager comeback with Maud for a season before again resigning because of committee interference!!. Then went to referee classes, got my 'badge' and refereed for many years in the juniors, Highland League and ran the line in the Scottish Premier and the other Scottish Leagues before 'retiring' a few years ago.
One of my many highlights in my refereeing/linesman career was a European trip to run the line in a European Cup match in Eindhoven between PSV and Zalgiris Vilnius - had a great trip. However, brought back to earth the following Saturday when refereeing the Vale against Caley - Caley won 1-0 and I was not popular with the Vale fans that day!!
Then undertook supervising up and coming (there's not many!!) referees in the juveniles, amateurs and juniors.
.
What does a normal Saturday afternoon entail for you these days ?
Nowadays, despite my 'expanding waist line', I do a lot of running and compete in (although never winning!!) 10ks, half marathons and full marathons. In addition, if not supervising referees (have not done much in last couple of years due to work commitments), go and watch a match somewhere and go to the bookies to put on my horses and fixed odds!!