Officials and supporters of a Fife football team are celebrating a notable milestone as their club turns 100-years-old.
St Andrews United was formed on May 17, 1921 to help provide First World War service personnel with increased recreational activities and the fledgling outfit quickly became one of the top semi-professional sides in Fife.
Indeed, St Andrews United has enjoyed several periods of success throughout the last century so members of current committee are hosting an exhibition in the town to mark the club’s big birthday.
United’s most notable achievement came in May 1960 when Romeo Borella scored two goals in the Scottish Junior Cup Final victory over Greenock but the club has also won the Fife Junior League on seven occasions.
Club Historian and Secretary Donald Gellatly says: “I am delighted that the centenary exhibition upstairs at ‘The Citizen Building’ is taking place, given the current concern surrounding Covid-19.
“The club has already postponed a marquee evening, golf day and special friendly match versus Greenock because of the pandemic yet I began planning the exhibition more than a year ago.
“Thankfully, the Scottish Government lifted some of the Covid-19 restrictions at the end of April so the exhibition is proceeding as planned in a safe environment.”
As such, visitors to the gallery run by J & G Innes, on the corner of South Street and Church Street, are able to read about the rich history of St Andrews United, view player profiles on the ‘Wall of Fame’ and spot familiar faces in old team photographs.
There is a wide range of memorabilia on display including old-fashioned leather balls, medals, flags, pennants, trophies, programmes and strips.
A history booklet is also on sale at J & G Innes throughout the exhibition and it is full of stats, stories and photos.
Donald adds: “I hope that supporters and visitors to the Auld Grey Toun enjoy the exhibition, whether they spend a few minutes looking at the photographs or time reading the articles on the walls.
“My favourite item on display is an exact replica of the shirt worn in the 1960 Scottish Cup Final, which Mr Borella has signed!
“The Citizen is a great venue in which to hold an exhibition because of the layout and central location on the corner of South Street and Church Street.
“The building dates back to medieval times and is worth a visit in itself, whilst the staff are always extremely helpful.”
Initial confusion over centenary dates
Donald told The Courier previously how the first problem they faced whilst choosing dates for the centenary events was deciding when the club was actually formed.
The committee of the mid-1980s added the date of 1920 to the official badge based on advice from the Scottish Junior Football Association.
It was thought that the current St Andrews United was a continuation of a club called St Andrews Comrades.
Yet a quick online search of the British National Newspaper Archive several years ago clearly showed those two sides were completely different outfits.
Further research resulted in discovery of the real date of St Andrews United’s formation, which was May 17, 1921.
The two-week exhibition above J&G Innes runs until May 24. Entry to the exhibition is free, though donations are welcome.
Anniversary of famous Scottish Junior Cup win
2020 was the 60th anniversary of the greatest day in the history of St Andrews United Football Club, as featured in The Courier.
On May 21, 1960, United travelled to Hampden Park to face Greenock Juniors in the Scottish Junior Cup Final.
Remarkably, coming at the end of a season that saw the St Andrews club sustain only one loss on the way to claiming the Fife League title, the 11 men who faced Greenock in front of 34,603 fans at Scotland’s national stadium had never previously played altogether.
The team was also selected by the club committee rather than the coach and went into the final as massive underdogs.
However, in true ‘Roy of the Rovers’ fashion, the Fifers returned to St Andrews not only with the cup after a 3-1 victory but with their very own ‘Roy Race’, one Romeo Borella.
The Crail restaurateur beat Tail o’ the Bank goalkeeper Mike McGinlay with two terrific solo efforts in the second half, having switched positions with Jock Fraser from outside left to inside right at the interval.
Future Rangers and Newcastle United star, Willie Penman then added the third.
The victorious squad received a rapturous welcome back in St Andrews when met by thousands of cheering locals between the West Port and the Town Hall.
Captain and future referee John Hughes held the Scottish Cup out of the team bus window as the procession headed along South Street and the heroic players met the Lord Provost prior to enjoying a long night of celebrations at the Cross Keys Hotel on Market Square.
Borella recalled last year that confidence was high amongst the St Andrews United players on the back of some impressive results in previous rounds against formidable opponents.
However, what stuck in their minds most were the jubilant scenes when the final whistle blew and the rapturous reception when they arrived back home in St Andrews.
As the 60th anniversary approached in 2020, Donald Gellatly told how he enjoyed researching the detail of that remarkable day.
“The final whistle eventually sounded and the travelling fans from St Andrews roared in appreciation as United captain John Hughes climbed the stairs of Hampden’s main stand to collect Junior football’s most prestigious trophy,” Donald told The Courier.
“Borella later expressed disappointment that stewards stopped the celebrating squad from parading the trophy around the perimeter of the pitch yet there were no such issues when the victorious players arrived back in St Andrews.
“United’s medal winning left half and bulldozer driver Tommy Will recalled that the streets of various North East Fife villages on the route home were lined with well-wishers, whilst the team bus struggled to travel along South Street in St Andrews because the crowds were so large.
“Will also remembers a pipe band marching in front of the bus and the civic reception held at the town hall prior to celebrations continuing at the Cross Keys Inn.
“Borella, who played in the final with a broken jaw, also notes the Scottish Cup heroes had never previously played together as an 11, though Will states that was never going to be a problem because the players could all depend on each other and the team spirit was fantastic.
“The result meant St Andrews United thus became only the second team from Fife to win the Scottish Junior Cup (after Inverkeithing United in season 1912/13) but Borella and Will are the only surviving members of the starting 11 from that famous day 60 years ago.”