This week Lewis Connolly sat down with Gordon Marshall as the former Falkirk keeper went through his favourite teammates from his time at the club!
Gordon Marshall is fondly remembered by Bairns fans for being a consistent performer for a number of years. He established himself in the team immediately upon arrival and has the rare distinction of playing every single game he possibly could during his time with the club. A commanding goalkeeper who dominated his area, coupled with being a reliable shot-stopper saw Gordon make the jersey his own.
His main strength was the reliability he showed over the seasons he spent at Brockville, demonstrated by the fact the fans never had to give the goalkeeping situation a second thought for over four years.
Joining the club
“My move from East Fife was mainly down to Dave Clarke moving, he got the Falkirk job and straight away wanted me to move. East Fife had two games and Falkirk had ten games and still had an opportunity to stay up. We managed to put a run of games together straight away, including a 2-1 victory at Parkhead with Jimmy Gilmour scoring and that helped keep us up at the expense of Clydebank”.
Establishing himself as number 1
“I remember going in basically straight away, Nicky Walker was there and Geordie Watson too, I always liked playing against him as I always liked him as a goalkeeper. He was a consistent keeper and had been there for years so I knew I had a hard act to follow. I just kept my head down and trained hard and was able to establish myself”.
Time at the club
“I experienced both highs and lows at the club, but loved my time there. We had the 1987-88 relegation and also a bit of upheaval as we went through a few managers in a fairly short period. On the other hand we became champions in 1990-91 and it was a great year, we had a fantastic season and ended up winning the league. We were helped along the way by the crowd who cheered us on every week and who were so close to the action at Brockville which created a great atmosphere.
I had a great time there and then ended up getting a move to Celtic, a month before the end of the season Celtic came in for me and Jim Jefferies never told me, eventually it all went to a tribunal at the end of the season.
As I said earlier, we had good and bad times on the pitch the same as any club, but the main thing that still stand out is the number of happy memories I have. Also, I don’t remember missing a single game during all my time at the club, I’m sure I played 185 consecutive matches as I don’t remember being either injured or suspended, so think I was a fairly good servant.
It wasn’t until I moved on that I realised how close I was to the Hall of Fame at the club. I was speaking to Crawford Baptie and he mentioned he was going to a dinner and had gotten an invite as he had played over 200 games, it was only at that point that I realised I had only just missed the Hall of Fame by 15 games.
I’ve no regrets though, ultimately I got a good move and had a good career. I had been at Rangers as a kid and messed up, it’s very rare for one of the Old Firm to come back in for you so I was very grateful and determined to do as well as I could and make the most of what I saw as a second chance at that level. Especially as I was still doing hairdressing full time and playing for Falkirk too. There were numerous times I was dashing from the shop at noon to rush to the game! It made me appreciate what I had and was a constant reality check”.
Manager: Dave Clarke
“I’m going for Dave because he really believed in me and gave me the opportunity to step up a level. He took me to East Fife after leaving Rangers and put me back on the map and let me step up again at Falkirk and I’ll always be grateful to him for giving me the opportunity. I saw him recently, he’s a nice guy and always treated me well. He just wanted you to work hard and do your best on a Saturday. He got me on the straight and narrow and enjoying football”.
Goalkeeper: Gordon Marshall (1987-91, 185 appearances)
“I was excited to join a club in the Premier League, it was a big step up from East Fife, but I felt I was ready for move and new challenge. Plus I got a boost in as much as I knew the manager had brought me in and was rooting for me, I felt ready. I like to think I did well during my time at Falkirk, I kept my head down and gave it everything I had”.
Right-back: Andy Nicol (1978-91, 339 appearances, 4 sub appearances, 3 goals)
“I’ll be very surprised if this man is missed out from many of these teams from around that era. Tommy McQueen is likely to be the same. Andy was so consistent it was ridiculous, he never let you down. He was an important part of a group that were successful in terms of actually achieving success on the pitch. He gave you a 7/8 out of 10 every weekend. I remember playing in his Falkirk select team in his testimonial and such was the respect for Andy amongst players that his side included players like Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Tommy Burns, that says it all”.
Left-back: Tommy McQueen (1990-95, 146 appearances, 2 sub appearances, 8 goals)
“Refined, consistent and very easy to play behind. There was no passback rule back then and his communication was excellent so he always did the right thing. He’d listen to my instructions from behind him and was very tenacious, he was a gentleman but could look after himself if needed too though.
I remember Donald Park challenged Tommy and damaged his cartilage. Then during a game in Donald Park’s last year Tommy and him went in for a 50:50 and Tommy put him up in the stand….. when I asked what that was about Tommy just smiled and said ‘he did my cartilage years ago and that was my first chance to get him back’! You didn’t cross him or Andy, they were the nicest guys ever but could sort you out if needed. Both just quality players”.
Centre Half: John “Yogi” Hughes (1990-95 & 2002-06, 245 appearances, 8 sub appearances, 14 goals)
“Simply put, the best centre half I played behind. He would block, tackle, dominate in the air, drop to the line to cover when needed, or attack the ball when asked. He would listen to you at all times too. Yogi moved to Celtic too and the partnership continued briefly there, it felt like yesterday since the last time we had played together.
He’s a big character in the dressing room too. I remember during the Craig Gowans memorial game I shouted and came out to claim a cross and suddenly despite it being a fundraiser match Yogi blocked the run and knocked the striker clean over… just like the old days! He’d always look after you, I had respect for him and hopefully he felt the same about me. Off the pitch there were plenty stories too, a great character.
During a game against Dundee, which was a big game to go up and give us some breathing space, we were 1-0 up with five minutes to go. Dundee were throwing everything at it and committing men forward and suddenly after a no-nonsense clearance big Yogi goes down. All of Brockville goes quiet, the physio runs on and Yogi’s sitting up, I’ve wandered over to see how he is and arrive just as the physio gets there and asks how we is… Yogi just winks at us, and says ‘I’ve got an itch, can you scratch my back?’ before laughing. He was portrayed as daft at times but it just shows you he was smarter than he was ever given credit for and did something different to settle things down and keep our composure”.
Centre Half: Stuart Burgess (1987-90, 116 appearances, 23 goals)
“Stuart played with me at East Fife, Dave Clarke wanted to take him to Brockville at the same time as me but East Fife didn’t want to lose both their keeper and centre half at the same time. Should’ve played at a higher level than he did. Off the pitch we always joked that he was a nightmare, but on the pitch he could do everything.
Some people said he wasn’t the fittest but his passing, heading and tackling were all top notch. He said Dave Clarke was the only manager he respected and wanted to do well for. I’d play beside him all day long, we were friendly off the pitch and I was his best man at his wedding, he was a great player but just not as hungry as others such as myself. He had all the tools to play at a higher level, but if you ask him he says he has no regrets in his career and that the best time of his career was his spell at Falkirk.
These two would be a great partnership and pip some others such as Peter Godfrey who was great in the air and tackle, Brian Whittaker was a quality player who had been at a high level and Jim Jefferies pulled a masterstroke getting Whittaker, Taylor and Stainrod down the spine of the team”.
Right wing: Kevin ‘Crunchie’ McAllister (1983-85, 1988, 1991-93 & 1997-2002, 319 appearances, 36 sub appearances, 60 goals)
“When he came up from Chelsea he arrived and lit the place up. When you saw him in training you couldn’t believe how good he was. Then on a Saturday he was just amazing. A local lad the punters loved, one of the few players that punters really paid to see. So exciting, had a genuine gift. He gave the whole club a lift. He had great balance and could beat players for fun, great crossing too, as Sammy McGivern will testify.
In that era some full-backs would play keepy-uppy with wingers! There were very few that wouldn’t be injured at some point, you had to be good to survive, but the wee man could take a kicking for ninety minutes and be back the next week ready to go again”.
Left Wing: Derek McWilliams (1987-91, 133 appearances, 44 goals)
“Very underrated, another that could’ve played at a higher level. He took a while to work out initially as he was quiet to begin with, but was a great lad once you got to know him. Should’ve played more games. Great with dead ball situations and crosses, his delivery was excellent. A good passer as well, he had loads of great qualities.
He just didn’t seem to catch a break sometimes and get the appearances he deserved. I always thought he dropped out the team for too long at times because the simple truth is when Gunner played well the team did too. Great player”.
Central Midfield: Crawford Baptie (1984-93, 236 appearances, 14 sub appearances, 39 goals)
“This guy would always be in my team, always. One of the most wholehearted players you could meet and he couldn’t do enough for you. Nicest guy you could ever meet, plus he should’ve been James Bond!
He was so difficult to play against as he joked that half the time even he didn’t know what he was about to do! I remember in a midweek match against United he scored a hat-trick, Dave Clarke had us training hard and churning the pitch for three days solid. Crawford was great at getting into the box, whether attacking a cross or arriving perfectly late for a well-timed shot. He could score scrappy goals, headers, the lot and could also do the defensive work.
The biggest question was where to play him, he would play one way regardless of position, a great team mate and gave you everything he’s got, would always drive the team on with those big strides. A gentleman too”.
Central midfield: Alex Taylor (1990-93, 64 appearances, 6 sub appearances, 6 goals)
“A good footballer, could see a pass, steady in his performances too. He used to do triathlons which says it all about his fitness. He came into the team and was someone who could just start things off. Yogi and big Burgess were there in front of me but if I could I’d give the ball to Alex as he was always the outlet. I think he provides the perfect contrast to Crawford so it would work well. His skill was always on show”.
Striker: Simon Stainrod (1990-92, 63 appearances, 1 sub appearance, 21 goals)
“A masterstroke of a signing, apparently he signed for £1 a week or £1000 if he played, that was big money compared to the rest of us in those days so brought its own pressure, but he was a big character and could take that on his shoulders no problem. He could certainly justify it too with his performances.
Other than a short injury he played every game. He was pure quality, some opponents said he had an arrogance and swagger about him when they first saw him, but he soon made them realise that he had every bit of the skill needed to back it up. He set himself up well with great control and got into good positions early, he was so clever and aware that it meant he was always a step ahead, he was the one who got us promoted that year.
He lived in Edinburgh like me and we would meet up for lunch on our days off, I’ve never ate so much good food in my life since then, he always took us to the good places like the Champeney or Raffaeli’s to dine in style. Simon would sit there in all the designer gear and had the waiters in the palm of his hand, whilst I’m sitting there wearing a sponsored Uhlsport tracksuit! We’d often meet for lunch and talk about the last game, he taught me as a player you needed to mentally switch off and relax sometimes when you’re away from training and matches, to just do simple things like sit and read the papers and unwind, to have lunch and a chat and to not always stress. Sundays I’d play golf and he’d see the family. He was full of charisma and style off the pitch and on the pitch was just different class and an immense signing, his attitude was spot on. He was brilliant”.
Striker: Sammy McGivern (1986-93, 131 appearances, 22 sub appearances, 37 goals)
“Sammy was brilliant, he’ll tell you himself he was hit or miss the seasons before but the year we won the title he was immense. The potential was always there and it was nothing to do with not working hard as everyone knows he ran and ran all day long. He always got into great positions and it was simply that he managed to hit the target more and as a result scored some crucial goals.
We used to joke in the dressing room that he did half of Simon’s running as well as his own because his workrate was so immense! Sammy outscored Simon that year so that speaks for itself and tells you how good he was that year, a great partnership between them too. Sammy was a really honest player and his enthusiasm was incredible and he’s in there for his performances that season alone”.
Jim Holmes (1988-90, 57 appearances, 2 sub appearances)
“A great defender who would make most teams, narrowly pipped by Tommy”.
Peter Houston (1982-87 & 1988-91, 204 appearances, 33 sub appearances, 43 goals)
“Great player who could play comfortably in so many positions, brilliant going forward”.
Alex Rae (1987-90, 79 appearances, 13 sub appearances, 21 goals)
“A classy ball playing central midfielder who played with real desire”.
Ian Macleod (1986-89, 71 appearances, 4 sub appearances)
“Used to travel together so got to know him well, sadly no longer with us, comfortable at right back or one up”.
Ken Eadie (52 appearances, 5 sub appearances, 10 goals)
“A good player plus in every photograph he would always be in a perfect pose”.
Brian Whittaker (1990-92, 34 appearances, 1 goal)
“Solid defender who could also play as a sitter in midfield”.
Stats kindly provided by bettermeddle.org