Lanark Rams team spirit still lives on after 40 years
To Celtic fans of a certain vintage, this year's half centenary celebrations of the Lisbon Lions will have stirred so many happy memories.
However, for anyone who taught at Lanark Grammar School between the years 1978 and shortly after the turn of the century, there was another, just as nostalgic football anniversary celebrated recently.
It was the 40th ‘‘birthday’’ party for the now semi-legendary Lanark Rams, the football team formed from successive generations of male teachers at ‘‘The Grammar’’.
A gathering of over 30 former members of the team was held at the Cartland Bridge Hotel – representing just under half the staff members who ever pulled on a Rams jersey over the years.
And while the official Scottish football history books might have largely ignored the team’s achievements, the legacy of the Rams has now been secured, thanks to a book officially launched at that weekend celebration.
The publication, compiled by former teachers Cammy Murray and Alan McCrindle, is entitled ‘‘The Rams 40th Anniversray, 1978 to 2018’’ and was especially created to mark the four decade milestone of the formation of the side.
The foreword, by the man nicknamed ‘‘The Heid Ram’’, Brian McCafferty, tells the story of the team origins, relating how he came to Grammar in 1978 to find the then teachers’ team going under the rather docile name of the Lanark Lambs. Having just come from a school where its staff side rejoiced in the fearsome title of the Coltness Cougars, he realised that some toughening up was in order!
In a relatively short time he, with the help of like-minded staff members, transformed the Lanark Lambs into the Lanark Rams and the rest, as they say, is history.
From the very start the priority of The Rams was not to to actually win football matches against various amateur sides.
The creation of “camaraderie” and “team-spirit” among the Grammar staff was a far more important aim than that and it is these are very words which cropped up time and time again, chatting about the team with the book’s co-author Cammy, echoing The Heid Ram’s edict that there was much, much more to The Rams than simply winning a game.
A passage in the book sums up that ethos well: “The Rams spirit has always shone brightly because of the emphasis on playing football as it should be played. At no time has there been any sign of disharmony, with football ability being of little consequence compared to ‘Ramaraderie’.”,
There was always a sort of self-mocking humour running through the Rams history with players given grandiose nicknames borrowed from famous international players and they even produced their own songbook of ‘‘ballads’’ to mark the side’s landmark matches and incidents.
One of these ditties tellingly has the lyric: “Our football’s pure: our camaraderie is ever sure.”
High up on the long list of fond memories for The Rams were the many visits made over the years to the Moffat Reivers, a side which started out as as opponents and ended up practically a sister club.
That famous Rams cameraderie endures to this day; the attendance at the anniversary party/book launch being testament to that.
Doubtless, the old team-mates swapped many memories with one another – all of them happy ones.