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Stewart McPherson tracks Down Vale players of the days gone by
Name Jim George
Date of Birth 05.06.1956
Occupation Just returned after some time in the States and now UK Sales Manager for Norwegian Company
Briefly outline your football career prior to joining Deveronvale.
Joined Aberdeen at 15 straight from school, While at Aberdeen I was farmed out to Rosemount Juniors and then it was on to the Vale after being released by Aberdeen.
Which year(s) did you play for Deveronvale? Who signed you for the club, and what attracted you to join? ?
During two stints at the Vale I played for three managers with a wee nightmare holiday at Elgin in between !
First manager to sign me was George Christie in 1976. Anyone who knew George would tell you what a gent. Experiencing a huge disappointment of being released from Aberdeen, George made me realize the best thing for me was a family club with management and players who just wanted to play football. He was spot on with the bonus of superb fans, win or lose, and if I had one regret during my time at the Vale it was going to Elgin after my first season.
In 1978 after the Elgin disaster I almost gave up altogether then I received a phone call from Ken Tedcastle who had replaced George, and enter gent no 2 ! I had just come from another disappointment , the script almost identical, only difference George was a janitor but Ken was a teacher.
Enter No 3 Billy Anderson and guess what, nothing to do with a school, he did tell me though he was at a great school because it was approved ! Different character altogether Billy was a local businessman and had his own way. In fact he would not have looked out of place if he arrived in a Reliant Robin with his brother Dave or is it Rodney ?!
All three were good managers who all had one thing in common they wanted the Vale to do well and that was enough for me.
.
What are your fondest memories of playing for Vale ?
"Without doubt the camaraderie on and off the pitch. Pre season training was always a pain and anyone who tells you they look forward to it are telling porkies. However there were always moments that would give you a lift and a laugh. Remember after one session we were all knackered and Jimmy ( Dowdles) Alexander asked for help to get on his BIKE. Yip motor bike he had just bought.
This thing was so big it took three of us to hold it in position so Jimmy could get on board start up and move off into the sunset of Macduff. Easy rider eat your heart out cause wee Jimmy is on his way. I also had a great time with the wee man not just at the Vale but when I was manager at Turriff.
Princess Royal Park was arguably the best playing surface in the Highland League during my time and that was down to the man himself Dougan Duncan who was a character who never seemed to age, must have been the grass he was on ! I am sure after visiting Princess Park Royal recently and seeing how good it still looks, Dougan has left instructions on what needs to be done. I was sad to hear he passed away recently. In the dug out you had Ian Cormack who had two jobs, one to look after the players and the other was to translate for his son Alec . Ian, if you read this, thank you.
My first season was an experience for me traveling to away games in a mini bus . Journey to the game was fine but the return always seemed to take longer. The banter was always flying during a quiet game of cards and anyone who knows Norman( Poker face) Perry knows not to play for money. The fog in the Glens was always the favourite excuse for being late, even in the summer?
" .
What is the most memorable game you played in for Vale, and why ?
So many good and some for the wrong reason. Reaching the final of the Milk Aberdeenshire Cup was a major achievement but unfortunately we were beaten by Peterhead in a replay. In season 78 / 79 we had a superb start and were sitting joint top of the league with Inverness Thistle just before Christmas.
Unfortunately the clouds opened up when we played them in Inverness and we lost 10 - 0. No surprise, on that day we had about five bus loads of supporters who we let down that day and I can still see Allan Forbes boots flying in the dressing room after the game. Some things just didn't need saying!
Who were the characters at the club ?
Where do you start, in the four plus years there were so many. At the back we had so many different characters. Graham Senff who I am sure had two left feet the way he run, not a bad defender though not sure if I followed him or he followed me but we both went to Elgin and left at the same time. Remember Brian Pratt who had the hairdo of Bobby Charlton. Everything big Brian did was at one pace on or off the park. I used to get a lift to the games from Brian and I remember one time returning to Aberdeen and stopping in Turriff for something to eat.
Brian whose body was a temple insisted no chips and only wanted one macaroni ,one mince and one steak pie. (Think they call it Atkins diet today !). Remember Brian is driving and eating at the same time, he was still eating when we arrived back in Aberdeen .Amazing thing though was half his mince pie fell down the side of the chair and was not sure if he just wanted to keep for later but it disappeared five weeks later ! Brian was player of the year that year and also a great midfielder / defender so that speaks for itself. Enter 'I hate a night oooot' Donald Buchanan, young lad up from the juniors and a complete opposite for Graham and Brian; he had hair for a start. Donald was a class act solid on the park , although still cannot work out how he put in a shift, but still managed to come off the park cleaner than he went on and not a hair out of place.
Donald was the Highland leagues answer to Simon Cowel ( X Factor ), shorts right up to the middle of his chest. Ouch. I will not say much about Big Allan Forbes who we had to have reigns on when he played at the back . I am sure the big man scored more goals from the back than our forwards. Go from this and enter wee Dinky Wilson , can you imagine 5ft nothing permanent smile (always knows something you don't).Long after leaving the Vale the next time I met the wee man was on a plane on the way to Boston. He was traveling with the Banff Rugby team and later heard he played ? I can also say they did not let the town of Banff down as it was a free bar on the plane and they drank it dry , singing was not bad either.
Obviously on the supporter front we have to mention Bridie because he was like many a die hard Vale fan and was always there thick or thin shouting the guys on encouraging. I have always had a good rapore with the Vale supporters and the Vale fans are second to none, miss the banter big time the supporters made my time in the Highland league fun.
Would not be right to single out any club officials as without the dedication of those officials in the 70 / 80s to keep things going who knows where the club would have been today. Well Mac what about you, seen all the difficult times and hopefully lapping up the good ones and why not you had hair in the 70s.
Who were the best players you played with at the Vale ?
In addition to those already mentioned George Pirie who was always so calm in defence, Gary Loch for his work rate, Kevin Bremner for never say die and Kevin and Colin Walker for amusing arguments (together).
And who were the best players you played against ?
Where do you start so many and many with character. There were a lot of top strikers during this time who were deadly in front of goal. Start with Urquhart and Macintosh at Caley, big Charlie Barbour and Ray O'Hara, Mitch Bavidge was not bad either to name but a few but there was one I always loved playing against, wee Rex Hunter . The laugh we used to have during a game was superb, don't get me wrong we did take it serious but the wee man was deadly in front of goal and we always had a bit of banter.
In midfield you had John Docherty (the Doc) of Caley, silky Jim Guyan at Peterhead but the master or me was Charlie Duncan. I had the pleasure of being in the same team as Charlie at Inverness Thistle and he was superb on and off the park with the younger players. No surprise why he has been so successful as Fraserburgh manager.
As for goalkeepers, we were all great, seriously though Dave Lawtie, big Mike McHattie who I am sure had a hand transplant, Ian Thain, Neil Clark again there was a good standard.
What have you done in a football sense since you left the Vale ?
I was sold to Inverness Thistle where I had had a further four happy years in the Highland League. I stopped playing after this due to earlier injuries catching up.
Surprisingly Elgin offered me a contract to keep playing which I turned down as I wanted to start coaching. I have managed various clubs since then in the junior ranks. Inverurie Locos, Turriff Utd, East End, Formartine and Banks o Dee.
I also managed Lossiemouth in the Highland League.
.
What does a normal Saturday afternoon entail for you these days?
Coaching goal keepers at Banks'o'Dee which means Saturdays fully booked at games.
I had a great time in the Highland League of which playing for the Vale was special. Vale is always one of the first scores I look for on a Saturday and I hope they keep progressing.

Thanks for the memories