Share your memories of the Glenbuck Cherrypickers

Robert Gillan reflected in the Bill Shankly memorial at Glenbuck East Ayrshire.
Robert Gillan reflected in the Bill Shankly memorial at Glenbuck East Ayrshire.

DOUGLAS man Robert Gillan is looking for Gazette readers’ help in writing a book profiling the renowned Glenbuck Cherrypickers football team.

Robert wants to speak to anyone with stories or photographs related to the East Ayrshire team which produced 50 professional footballers in its history from the 1870s to 1931, despite the population of Glenbuck – near Douglas – being only around 1000.

“It is absolutely astounding that such a small village produced so many footballers ,” said Robert (48), of Glebe Avenue.

“I don’t think there is anywhere else in the UK where this has happened to such an extent.

“I think it was because the only choice for men in the village was to either work down the pits or play football.

“They would do 12-hour shifts down a coal mine from 6am to 6pm before going straight to the football park for 20-a-side games. These guys lived and breathed football.”

The Cherrypickers’ figurehead was Bill Shankly, who went on to captain Scotland in 1942 and become best known for his managerial exploits in charge of Liverpool.

Shankly and his four brothers – who played in the same five-a-side team at Glenbuck – all went on to play professional football in Scotland or England.

Shankly was one of four Glenbuck stars who would go on to one day lift the FA Cup, the others being Sandy Brown and Sandy Tait (winners with Tottenham in 1901) and George Halley (Burnley, 1914).

Robert said that all these stars had been helped by their wonderful football grounding in Glenbuck, as illustrated by the five Knox brothers who teamed up in the Ayrshire mining village.

For more on this, pick up a copy of this week’s Carluke and Lanark Gazette.