“Wha Saw The Tattie Howking”
Time moved on, I was around eleven years old, we as a family were moving up. The signalman had traded in his motorbike and sidecar for a manky old Bedford van, ex GPO with wooden bench seats in the back, the only downside was that it cost more petrol to run and so the mince had to be watered down even more. Mother worked in the mill. We had moved into a brand-new council house two years past, the move was a story in itself, one large perambulator with 100,000 miles on the clock to-ing and fro-ing, he had borrowed a huge railway cart to carry the sofa and the big stuff. No matter because in a few weeks I was off to school camp for a whole four weeks and the camp had two full sized football pitches. But there’s a small problem, I needed a pair of long trousers, so what to do? My pal came up with the solution, Tattie Howking. So the plan came to fruition and the Perthshire fields awaited our company. We found ourselves some days later standing at the bus stop waiting to be picked up, how could I possibly know that in the house with the bus stop outside my beloved would live, it took another eight years for us to meet at the Dunfermline Kinema and our life-time journey would begin.
Tattie howking, face down for four long weeks looking down at the Perthshire dirt extracting Solanum Tuberosum, if it was good enough for my forefathers, then it was good enough for me. As Chrissie Hyde would sing “Brass In Pocket” and troosers bought.
Fitbaw crazy school camp near Meigle, Scotland’s oldest village, Ardler House, Scotlands answer to ‘Broadmoor’. Cedar wooden huts with dormitories, best not to say what went on there at night, but needless to say, discipline was lax, looked after by a drunken but lovable Maths teacher whose nose was bigger and redder than any post box. What followed was four weeks of madness, lots of cold fresh air but masses of football. “Scotland’s Outdoor Educational Centre”. I loved it. The highlight for me was being coached by a football coach, one Davie McParland.
Davie McParland is listed as one of Partick Thistles greatest servants, he features alongside,
Husband – Davidson – McKenzie – Rough – Archibald – McKenna – McMullan and of course the Hanson brothers. “Firhill For Thrills” was the cry of the “Harry Wraggs”. Davies 109 goals in 548 games over sixteen years sounds absurd, but he will be remembered at Thistle for taking his young team to Hampden in 1971 and, look -away now, beating ‘The Tic’ 4-1. I’m certain that any older Celtic supporters would never forget that game and fair play to Davie, talk about a cup upset. It elevated Davie to Thistle cult status and Big Jock would keep him in mind, of that there could be no doubt. Davie played with and against some of the great players of that time, like Bertie Auld, Paddy Crerand, Jim Baxter and he didn’t look out of place. In 1976 Davie was invited to become Big Jock’s assistant, Sean Fallon was tasked with finding the next batch of “Quality Street Kids”, he had found the first set after all. Davie McParland took over training while Jock tried to recover from his near fatal car crash and Celtic won the League Title and the Scottish Cup double in 76-77. But the next season’s empty trophy cabinet gave the family’s board the excuse to dump Jock and Davie was just part of the collateral damage. Am I bitter at Jock’s treatment? Hell yes.
Davie McParland was a lovely human being, he was very much respected in Scottish football and for good reasons, he fully deserves to be remembered as a part of Celtic’s glorious history, but it will be as a part of the “Harry Wraggs” history that he will be remembered by them. I for one will miss his genuine smile.
Davie McParland (5th. May 1935 – 14th. July 2018). Requiescat In Pace.