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Stewart McPherson tracks Down Vale players of the days gone by
Name Grant Smith
Date of Birth 16/3/59
Occupation Student
Which years did you play for Deveronvale ?
Who signed you for the Vale and what attracted you to sign for the club ?
George Christie. It seemed a natural progression from welfare football. Secretary Sandy Gray really sold the idea to me that I'd be good enough.
What are your fondest memories of playing for Vale ?
A sense of pride at being involved in a side that was the vanguard to the Vale being treated more seriously..
What is the most memorable game you played in for Vale ?
Obvious stand-out was the Bell's Cup final at Huntly in 1977/78 which we won on penalties.
The two Aberdeenshire Cup finals (one replay) against Peterhead in 1978/79 were amazing…the Vale fans at both games deserved a better result. Also, the fan base at the time was the real start of the Valley Crew, and provided some great laughs, as well as a superb atmosphere.
Who were the characters at the club ?
Johnny Cowie, the late Norrie McBain (my first encounter with Norrie was memorable…he appeared dressed like a film star - leather coat and shades ! Roy Chillingworth, Graeme Summers, amongst many others.
Who were the best players you played with at the Vale ?
Jim Leighton, Johnny Mackie, George Pirie, Kevin Bremner (unstoppable at his best !) but the biggest influence on me was Norman Perry. He was such a skillful player, but also 'hard as nails'.
And who were the best players you played against ?
Steve Paterson (Elgin City), Charlie Duncan (Inverness Thistle), Gordon Connelly (Ross County), George Adams (Buckie Thistle) … I made many opposition players look good !
What have you done in a football sense since you left the Vale ?
Played for Fraserburgh, Turriff United, Deveronside, and Cove Rangers. Coached Portsoy Boys Club for several years, and am still involved, working with Stewart Neilson at Banff Academy. I will always be indebted to the Vale for giving me the chance to play at that level, and through that experience, the confidence to carry on and enjoy so many happy years, allied with such good memories.
What does a normal Saturday afternoon entail for you these days ?
I attend the occasional match (not a great spectator I'm afraid !) and play a bit of golf (12 handicap at Cullen).
I often just have an easy afternoon as I'm now playing lead guitar for local band 'Cover 2 Cover' at nights.
However, nothing matches the buzz of getting ready for a match on a Saturday afternoon.