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The History of Lochs FC
Duncan N Macleod
Lochs Football Club was founded in 1934 when a group of enthusiasts in the village of Leurbost established a team. The team, initially called Leurbost, was under the guidance of three young men from the village who had been introduced to football in colleges and universities in Glasgow and Aberdeen. They were Murdo “Mago” Macleod of 40 Leurbost, Allan Macdonald of 41 Leurbost and William Kennedy of 38 Leurbost. In that initial season they played four friendly matches. They won 2-0 against Carloway in a game played at Garenin, lost 2-0 to the same side at the Creagan Dubh in Leurbost, lost 3-0 to Uig in Ardroil and beat Lower Bayble 6-2 at Melbost. . These friendly matches were a preamble to the club’s first competitive game. This was in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup of 1934 and it took place on 9th September against Point at Melbost. This match finished Point 0 – 1 Lochs. Unfortunately the Eilean an Fhraoich was then, as it is now, played over two legs and the Rudhachs won the second leg 7-0 ending the Lochies interest in the competition.Of great interest is the diary of the then Treasurer/Secretary Neil Maclean (Niall Iain Sheorais or “Beardy” as he was known) of 33 Leurbost. This has survived until today and gives detailed records of club expenses. It reveals that a set of football strips cost £7-5s-9d (£7.30), three leather balls cost £1-17s-6d (£1.87) and that 7s-9d (40p) was spent on “refreshments”. Not much for a pint or two after the games!!The main sources of income in 1934 were a concert that was held in Leurbost School on April 13th 1934 which raised £22.0s.5d, gate money from home games, donations and the money brought in through a membership fee to join the club committee which amounted to 2/- (10p) per person.So a football Club was born in the far off pre Second World War days of the 1930’s, a club that still flourishes and keeps the name of Lochs alive in the world of amateur football
Using Neil Maclean’s detailed diary we find that the 1935 season was a near copy of 1934. Friendly matches were played against Balallan, Lower Bayble and Harris in which the team was called Leurbost. However it is interesting to note that in a further two friendly games against Rovers and Back Neil notes the team as being Lochs. This could well have been due to the inclusion in the squad of two Kinloch players, Alasdair “Sambo” Kennedy from Airidhbhruach and David Smith from Balallan. Once more the only competition entered was the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup. The opposition was again Point and the result was again defeat at the hands of the Rudhachs. Both matches were lost 5-0 and 2-1. The first game was played at the Creagan Dubh and so I feel confident that this was the first competitive home match played there by Lochs. Neil Maclean’s eye for detail, exhibited in his diary, continues to reveal the expenses involved in running a football club in the 1930’s. He notes that the trip to Harris, which I assume would have been by bus, cost £2 while the trip to Gress to play Back cost £1-2s-6d (£1.13). As the present Treasurer sums like that leave me reeling!! Finally for the season he notes that pitch expenses cost the club 8s 3d (45p). Lochs are in the process of upgrading the same pitch to the tune of £217,000. Times have changed.
By 1936 a problem was beginning to rear its head for the club. The state of the Creagan Dubh Park was giving cause for concern. The ground was uneven and new goalposts were needed. Work was undertaken to improve the surface of the pitchand new goalposts were purchased for the sum of 6/- (30p). The team also bought football socks in 1936 costing 7s – 6d (38p).Despite the condition of the pitch several friendly matches were played on it. The side had wins over Carloway (5-0), Stornoway School (2-1), and Harris (2-0). They were defeated by Back (0-5) and Balallan (1-2). They also played three away friendlies at Bragar where they lost 2-1, at Melbost where they beat Point 1-0 and at Goathill where they defeated Stornoway School 2-1.1936 also saw the first “epic struggle” in Lochs’ long footballing history. This was that season’s Eilean an Fhraoich Cup tie with Ness. The first leg at the Creagan Dubh ended 2-2 and the return at Ness also ended in the same score line with outside left Neil Maclean netting the two Lochs goal. With an aggregate score of 4-4 a deciding match was played on Saturday 25th July 1936 at Goathill Park, Stornoway. Ness won 3-1 and went on to win the trophy that season, an honour Lochs would have to wait another 23 years before achieving.
In 1937 Lochs joined the extended Stornoway Football Association (SFA) League which for the first time included rural Lewis teams. The final League Table for that season shows Lochs in a respectable 5th place.
In Cup football Lochs played in four competitions. In the Roma Cup they defeated West Side in the quarter final, Point in a semi final which went to a third replay before Lochs came out on top 1-0 and Rovers 3-2 in the final. This gave the club their first trophy in their third year of existence.
Unfortunately the side had to withdraw from the Doyly Carte Cup at the first round stage but did play in the Tormod Mor Tankard. Point and Back were defeated at the Creagan Dubh to set up a final against Rovers. Lochs held a 3-2 lead as the game went into the last minutes. The referee, Mr. Baker, then controversially awarded a penalty for handball against a Lochs defender, Rovers converted and the match ended in a draw. Amid controversy Lochs complained to the SFA about the refereeing decision, it was decided to replay the final with the same referee in charge, Lochs refused to play and the cup was awarded to Rovers after the season ended.
Lochs reached a third final that season losing to Point in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup final, played over two legs, 6-0 on aggregate.
The Creagan Dubh was again a thorn in the club’s side as it was declared unplayable by the SFA. Three local men, probably Murdo Nicolson (Murdie Choinnich), Alasdair Smith (Alasdair Mor) and Angus Macdonald (Brunaidh) were employed to improve the surface. They were each paid £2-6s-8d (£2.35) for 56 hours of work at a rate of 10d (8p) an hour.
Three Lochs players featured in Lewis Select sides that year. Hector Martin 37 Leurbost (Eachainn Floraidh), DR Martin 15 Leurbost (Domhnall Roddy Crustaidh) and Donald Nicolson 11 New Holdings, Leurbost (Danny Sheonaidh Murdo).
The years 1939 – 1945 were dominated by the Second World War and so it was 1946 before hostilities recommenced on the football field. The driving force behind the team in the post war period was Angus Macleod of Ranish who was to remain in charge of the team into the late1970’s.
Eight teams entered the League that season including Lochs. The powerhouses of this period were Back and Point. Back won the title and Lochs finished in 5th place with 12 points.
The only cup competition that season was the Doyly Carte Cup and Lochs had to face champions Back. They beat them 3-1 at home but lost the second leg 4-0, going out 5-3 on aggregate.
As only ten teams entered the League it was decided to have just the one division. Lochs finished in 6th place winning ten games, drawing one, losing six and one game against Back was never played. This was probably due to the pressure of games on Goathill Park as seven of the ten teams used it for their home games.
Good reporting in the Stornoway Gazette makes it possible to get the scorers for all but four of Lochs’ goals that season and Joe Elliot was the top scorer with 16 followed by Murdo “Purtz” Graham with 10.
An attempt was made to play the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup in 1950 and the only game played was between Uig and Lochs which ended 1-1. The competition was abandoned shortly afterwards.
Three Lochs players played for the Lewis Select against a North of Scotland Select, a game they lost 4-1. These players were Angus “Bobby” Martin (Leurbost), John “M” Macleod (Balallan), who scored the Select’s only goal, and Finlay “Webb” Mackenzie.
An interesting footnote to the season concerns Iain Montgomery who played for Lochs, when home in summer from Glasgow, in 1946, 1947 and 1949. In 1950 he was signed by Chelsea. He played for their reserve teams in the Eastern Counties League in season 1950/51 playing on several occasions at Stamford Bridge.
Lochs did not field a team in either 1951 or 1952, but by 1953 they were again ready for action. This was largely due to the efforts of John Murdo Macmillan who was then the Headmaster of Leurbost School. Two games into the season and tragedy struck the Lochs side when their star player Angus “Bobby” Martin was killed in a tragic accident when he fell over cliffs at the Ness lighthouse. This incident cast a pall of gloom over the team for the season. The team struggled to keep pace with the strong Point and Athletic teams of that season and finally finished rock bottom of the League with only one win and one draw.
The only cup competition Lochs entered was the Stornoway Cup in which they were defeated 2-1 by United in the First Round after an earlier 2-2 draw.
Despite their lowly League position goalkeeper Alasdair “Atch” Macdonald was selected to play for the Lewis Select for two games against Inverness Caledonian an honour he richly deserved.
Like its predecessor season 1954 was a bit of a struggle for the Lochies. They were again involved at the wrong end of the League table. However, it was some consolation that they did not finish with the wooden spoon and showed some improvement by winning four games and drawing one and finishing 7th out of the 8 teams.
The only cup competition entered was the Stornoway Cup and in Round 1 they were thrashed 6-0 by a Point side that went on to win the League title that season.
It is interesting to note that Macphails and Macmillans from South Lochs were beginning to appear on the team sheet by the mid 1950’s making the team more representative on the whole of the Lochs Parish.
During this period Lochs did not field a League team and played only in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup.
Eilean an Fhraoich Cup; after a 5-5 draw with Back Lochs lost the one leg tie 2-0 in a replay.
Eilean an Fhraoich Cup; lost 4-1 to Carloway in Round 1.
Eilean an Fhraoich Cup, lost 3-0 to Ness after getting a bye in Round 1.
By this season the ties were played on a home and away two leg basis but this did not help Lochs who in Round 1 lost r-3 and 3-2 to Ness.
Season 1959 was to produce a very successful cup run for Lochs ending in cup triumph when they lifted the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup for the first time. Aggregate wins of 9-1 over Back and 7-3 over holders Ness put Lochs into the final against West Side. Its is estimated that a crowd of 700 witnessed the final in which Lochs won 2-0 through goals by John “Chuck” Macleod and Rob Macleod. The team in that final was as follows:
1. Alistair “Stobbie” Morrison
2. William Maclean
3. Roddy “Rally” Macleod
4. Roddy “Barts” Macleod
5. “Rodishan” Macleod
6. Kenny Macmillan
7. Malcolm “Baker” Macdonald
8. “Rob” Macleod
9. Roddy Macritchie
10. Donald J. Mackinnon
11. John “Chuck” Macleod
As cup holders Lochs fielded a team in the 1960 Eilean an Fhraoich Cup despite not having a League team. In Round 1 they demolished Harris 22-2 on aggregate a record for the competition. In one of the games they won 13-1 a record score for a single game which was only equaled in 2006 by the present squad. They beat Back in the semi-final before meeting Point in the final. Roddy Macritchie scored twice Rob Macleod once and Iain Kennedy once to give Lochs a 4-0 half time lead. They did not relinquish this lead and so secured an Eilean an Fhraoich Cup double in 1959 and 1960.
In Round 1 they beat Point 7-0 over the two legs setting up a semi-final tie against Ness. This turned into a four game epic before Ness finally knocked out the holders Lochs.
Lochs were back in the League in 1962 and had a very successful season. They finished 3rd winning eleven of their twenty games and scoring fifty goals. In the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup they had a good run that took them all the way to the final where unfortunately they lost 3-1 to Back. The only other cup competition played was the Stornoway Cup. Lochs were drawn against School and after two 3-3 draws the School won the second replay.
Three Lochs players featured for the Lewis Select in their match against a North of Scotland Select which the Select lost 8-2. They were Willie Maclean (Leurbost), John “Chuck” Macleod (Crossbost) and Murdo Nicolson (Leurbost/Point).
Lochs got off to a blistering start in season 1963 winning their first four League games. This run was brought to a halt by Point who defeated them 3-0. Lack of consistency meant that the Lochies finished 4th in the table with 23 points.
In 1963 Lochs won the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup for the third time. After victories over Rally Rovers (Harris) and Point Lochs played Shawbost in the final and won 4-2 with goals coming from Rob Macleod, Don Neil Martin, Chuck Macleod and Baker Macdonald.
The Stornoway Cup proved elusive for Lochs. This time they were beaten by Point 7-1 after a 4-4 draw in the first game.
Lochs had a steady if unspectacular League season finishing in 3rd place. In the cup competitions Lochs had mixed fortunes. Point knocked them out of the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup in the First Round. Wins over Carloway (6-1) and Back (3-1) took Lochs into the final of the Stornoway Cup against League Champions Athletic. The final ended 3-3 and the replay played two days later ended 4-2 for Athletic after extra time. In the Spring Cup having beaten School 5-0 in Round 1 Lochs lost 4-3 to Athletic.
Two Lochs players Rob Macleod and Alasdair “Billy” Macleod (both Leurbost) played for the Lewis Select against Ross County in an 8-0 defeat.
In 1964 much work was done again to try and improve the Creagan Dubh Park and during their visit to play the Lewis Select Ross County were to play Lochs there for the official reopening of the Park. Ironically the weather took a hand, the pitch was flooded, and the game had to be played at Goathill Park. Ross County ran out 14-1 winners on the night.
1965 was a very successful season for Lochs FC. They finished second in the League scoring 82 goals, which remains a club record to this day. They won both the Spring Cup and the Autumn Cup and lost in the final of the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup.
Aths had a particularly strong team in the mid ‘60’s and Lochs failed to beat them in the League drawing 2-2 away and losing 3-0 to the Stornoway team at home. This meant that the title went to Aths and Lochs had to be happy with second place.
In the Spring Cup lochs beat Point 2-1 in the final with “Chuck” Macleod scoring the two goals. Rovers were defeated 5-1 in a replay to win the Autumn Cup.
Lochs also had three players in the Lewis Select team that played Inverness Caley in 1965.
How do you follow a season like 1965? Lochs had been in three cup finals winning two. 1966 brought two more cup finals but unfortunately no silverware came to the Lake District. Both the Spring Cup and the Autumn Cups were lost to Athletic by 2-1 and 4-1 score lines respectively. The side retained its good form in the League finishing third and its best victory was an 8-0 hammering of School. A major disappointment was losing to Back in the 1st Round of the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup. Three Lochs players Rob Macleod, Chuck Macleod and Innes Macdonald featured in Lewis Select games played against Aberdeen side Sunnybank, and Avoch Rovers. In the game against Avoch the Select won 10-2 with Chuck scoring three and Rob two goals.
This was a season of such near things. They needed to win the last game of the season to lift the League title and lost 2-1 to Builders. They led Back 2-0 at half time in the final of the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup and lost 3-2. Yet this was one of the great Lochs sides with Chuck, Rob and a young Kenny Macsween starring.
Two new innovations were introduced to Lewis football in 1968. The League was divided into two divisions. Lochs were in Div 1 with Point, Aths, back and Builders. They won four games and lost four. The other new development was to have a League Cup played in sections. Lochs were matched with Back and School and did not progress from that section. Back again were to prove their nemesis in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup when they knocked them out in the semi final. However, success was to come in the Lewis Cup. Lochs knocked out Back and Point before meeting Aths in the final. The game ended 1-1 but Lochs won the replay 5-1 with Chuck scoring a hat trick. Several Lochs players also appeared in the Select side that played Morton at Goathill Park.
1969 brought mixed fortunes for Lochs. They finished 4th in the League with 7 wins and 7 defeats. Success did come in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup which they won defeating Point 3-2 in the final. Chuck, Kenny Macsween, Rob Macdonald and Iain Macdonald all played for the select against Morton