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Stewart McPherson tracks Down Vale players of the days gone by


Name – Steve Wait

Date of Birth – 18th December 1962

Occupation – Manager of a three Technical Trades College in the Hunter Valley area of New South Wales.

 

Briefly outline your football career prior to joining Deveronvale.

Prior to joining the Vale I was playing for Sunnybank Juniors and my local high school Bankhead Academy (we had a fairly good school team at that time if I remember right, that included Neil Simpson, Raymond Stephen, Gordon Mutch, Les Davidson, and me of course).
My family had moved back and forward between Scotland and Australia as a lad (Mum and Dad couldn’t work out where they wanted to live) and had played some junior football in Australia prior to returning to Scotland in 1974.

Which year(s) did you play for Deveronvale? Who signed you for the club, and what attracted you to join ?
I played for the Vale in the youth team and the senior team in 1978-79. I joined because I was asked to trial after taking part in a Scottish Football Association coaching clinic. I was a bit of a rough diamond and Billy Anderson said to me when I was in his group when he was being examined for his coaching certificate “ You’ll do a good job for me here Stevie !” I guess I was spotted there and then by Bill, who was ably assisted by Peter (Pedro) Davidson.

I was very very lucky to again have a short period with the Vale in 1990 and make a return to Princess Royal Park on a short term stint when they were in need of a goalie. Billy Anderson rang me when I was back in Aberdeen and said ‘Stevie can you still keep goals” I said “I think so” and the next week quite amazingly I was playing for the Vale again at 27 years old, back at Princess Royal Park. It swept back memories of my very last game for the Vale 10 years earlier as a 17 years old in a game against Aberdeen I think (the memory is going ! ).
It was a wonderful few months and so exciting for my Australian wife to see me play football in Scotland and enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the Highland League and its people and characters.

What are your fondest memories of your time with the club?

My fondest memories are the weekends in Banff and Macduff, the first time around as a 16 year old and then again in 1990 with my wife.

A particularly funny memory of my first stint as a Vale player when I was a youngster was the great times I had staying in Banff at a flat that Billy had arranged for the weekends. Some of the parties, shenanigans and laughs will stay with me forever and thankfully for those who were present I will defer to our shared memories and look forward to recounting the stories when I visit Scotland in June/July 2008.
The second time around playing with Vale in 1990 I‘d have to say the fondest and funniest memory was weekends with Bill and his family in Banff, I think Bill’s son Stuart was about 3 or 4 years old. I also remember a huge New Years Eve in Macduff where I invited a heap of Australian friends to come up to the Vale to partake of Mr. Bill Anderson’s hospitality.
Well suffice to say the mix of the Scots and the Aussies over the night and next few days is still recollected fondly by all my Aussie friends who were there. First time any of them I think had experienced a hotel owner (Bill Anderson) who said when you have finished your party lock up the bar, what a night !
Both times with the Vale were fantastic and it was a difficult decision on both occasions to leave. I still think of those times and being so far away it’s the memories that sustain you.

What is the most memorable game(s) you played in for the Vale, and why?

I remember it very distinctly; we were playing Fraserburgh and big Donald Buchanan uncharacteristically removed the legs from under a Fraserburgh player just outside the box.
The ensuing free kick was taken and curled over the top of the wall, I dived high and wide to my left and tipped it over the bar, to this day I don’t know myself how I got to it but it was the best save I ever made… I still don’t know how I got it but I did.
I always loved the trip to Rothes, I recall a bar we always stopped at in the middle of nowhere, and also playing cards on the way home… I was led well astray there I can tell you.

Who were the characters at the club?

Billy Anderson (say no more), Pedro Peter Davidson, Donald Buchanan, Grant Smith, James Pirie, Graeme Masson, I cant remember them all… it seems like another world now.
Billy came to Australia in about 1993-94 and was kind enough to share some wonderful days with us at our home for a short period. Billy told me some interesting stories about the possibilities and interest there was in me as an up and coming goalkeeper after I left Scotland to return to Australia. Of course I knew none of this at the time as 16 year old; Bill said “we were trying to do a deal with you Stevie to some other clubs”. It was a strange experience hearing this from Bill 13 or 14 years but hey I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Who were the best players you played with at the Vale, and why?
I remember James Pirie being quite something to watch and all of us other young players at the time thinking he was such a rare talent. I enjoyed particularly as a goalkeeper having a stopper as strong and reliable as Donald Buchanan, again I am ashamed to say my memory fails me with more details. We had a young bloke on loan from Aberdeen for a time, Steve Cowan I think, he was fair player I remember, what happened to him ? Maybe somebody could update me on the team?

Who were the best players you played against, and why ?

I am embarrassed to say as a very young kid the experience of playing at that level so young meant I was more than often very overawed by the games and would have no idea to this day who in the hell I was playing against, I just knew they were tough, fast and very good.
I also remember for quite a few games Billy had me listed in the team as “Newman” I had to tell my Mum and Dad when they got the Green Final that I would have my real name in there soon Billy said!!
What have you done in a football sense since you left the Vale?
Nothing really.
When I arrived back in Australia in 1980 I was bitterly missing Scotland and played a few trial games for the national league team based in Newcastle (Australia) where we returned to.
However the passion for the game and the standard of the game was nowhere near to the levels of my dreams and aspirations in Scotland, and there was certainly at that time in Australia no possibility of an apprenticeship in football let alone a career in the game.
I was offered a number of contracts with some state level teams, but gained a place at University and studied to become a Physical Education Teacher and gave football away.
I took up Rugby Union for a time at University and became a reasonably successful provincial player for a number of years.
I still played some football and kept my eye in and it was while contemplating a season of Rugby in Aberdeen in 1990 that Bill Anderson rekindled my football career with that fateful phone call.
I have, since retiring from sport, completed an MBA, taken up ocean swimming and long distance running and I am now a manager in the education and training sector.
Both my sons play football and they keep me busy being goalie for them in the back yard.
What does a normal Saturday afternoon entail for you these days?
I play cricket in the summer with a bunch of similarly decrepit old farts but its fun, and I ferry my 2 sons and daughter around in winter to all of their sporting pursuits, while I continue to gain condition.

I can’t wait to show my family Scotland in 2008 when we have a family holiday and will take great pleasure in showing them the hallow turf at Princess Royal Park.