Back in March 1981 a group of six lads from Welwyn in Hertfordshire decided to take the plunge and set off for Scotland to see where a team they had followed, for a few seasons previously, were based. That team was, of course, Stenhousemuir, and the lads were Messrs. Reynolds, Brown, Flanagan, Vine, Tunbridge and Spry.
Having saved up our Persil coupons to enable us to get a 2 for 1 offer on British Rail tickets we set out late on a Friday night from Kings Cross station heading for Edinburgh Waverley. Our train was the overnight paper train packed to the rafters. Persil must have filled some washing machines in the previous weeks. At approx 7 am the following morning we finally arrived with the rain coming down in droves. We proceeded to the minor platforms and boarded the local train to Falkirk. On arrival we looked for somewhere to stay and ended up at The Orchard Hotel. We spilt ourselves in three rooms, two of which had keys and the third with none. We informed the landlord who told us to take our valuables with us and lock the door, and just kick the door in on our return, as if this was the norm. Welcome to Scotland, sorry Falkirk.
From there we made our way, by taxi, to the Theatre of Dreams, Ochilview Park, where we were greeted by Alan McNeill and the regulars. Their welcome was something to treasure and we got stuck into the 70 shillings and change out of ten bob.
The game was against Queens Park and at 3 – 0 up we thought we were home and dry. But alas, 4 goals in our net meant we were the wrong end of a 7 goal thriller.
The evening was spent with the players. Brian Jenkins, Jim Black and Jim Meekin are names that come to mind, and Brian Jenkins has remained a great and loyal friend to this day.
That was trip number one. Since then there have been many more, and amazingly enough, all six original ‘lads’ are still alive and kicking. We have added many more to our travelling army and at the last count there has been 63. Today we are expecting around 25 to help us celebrate 30 years of dedication to the course. There have been many highlights, trips to Hampden and Ibrox, to name just two. But I suppose the lasting memory is the 95 Challenge Cup victory at McDiarmid Park.
We have seen many changes, including the new main stand and facilities, but Mick Reynolds’ tracksuit top has remained the same.
Four of the original six are in attendance today, Tim Brown, Mick Reynolds, Joe Flannigan and Steve Vine and on behalf of all of us today, including Jed Webster and crew, and Kevin Machin and the London Lads, forget the Olympics, we’ll see you in March 2031 for the 50th. Good luck to the team and thanks for your special hospitality over those 30 years.