beside the mission hall was often used and I am sure that I am
not the only one who remembers Johnnie Toppin's flying elbows.
"Wee Johnnie" is better known nowadays for his vociferous support
of the local teams, whether it be at Scottish Junior or boys club
Cuthill Park was a great place for many of our activities. We played
football, cricket, climbed trees, played on the swings, hunted for
birds' nests to look at the eggs, while Easter found us rolling
our eggs down the banking which was covered with wild primrose and
bluebells. Over the fence were the woods surrounding the golf course
where swarms of boys searched for elderberry sticks in preparation
for the annual stick throwing "battle" between Summerlee and Cuthill.
The two rival factions lined up facing each other on the open space
at the rear of Summerlee Street before making charges and throwing
their sticks at one another. I can never recall any casualties but
when we all retired the area was left strewn with sticks. Today,
the environmental health wallahs would "do their nuts" at such goings-on.
The Grange Miners Gala Day was our
big day. Prior to the gala the grass in Cuthill Park was scythed
arid carted off. Gala Day saw us all gathered on the open space
in front of the mission hall. Every boy and girl had a "tinnie",
secured by a cord, slung over their shoulders. The brass band
of St Joseph's Boys Bugle Band would march off, leading the procession
to the park. Once there and if the grass was dry, we would sit
down in long rows and wait for the tea and bags of cakes to be
served. The sports followed, with prizes for the fastest runners,
while those who were not sports inclined could enjoy themselves
in other ways; and providing your money lasted you could wander
round the "wee shops" set up under the trees to sell ice-cream,
juice and sweets.
The decision to form a league for
the "fitba" mad boys in the area saw a rush of raffle books appearing
in Cuthill, Summerlee and Morrison's Haven, No one was safe until
the boys had raised enough money to kit out the teams. Mr McGuire,
a miner from Summerlee, donated a trophy to the league, which
was won by the Summerlee Thistle. The final was played on top
of a coal bing which was the home ground of one of the local juvenile
teams who were known to us all as the "Bing Boys". Few teams relished
a visit to the "Bing", while it was a very foolhardy referee who
even considered giving a doubtful decision against the home team.
He was aware that the close proximity of the beach could find
him taking on an early salt water bath.
The formation of the 63rd Company of the Boys' Brigade was another
great event in our lives. Our first captain was Mr John Buchanan,
more popularly known as Johnny to all the boys. He could be a disciplinarian