The Midlands AFA, founded in 1926, first instituted an Alliance League in 1927, largely to cater for clubs’ reserve teams. Initially there was only one Alliance Division but a second was introduced in 1959, competing for a trophy presented by H.C.Nicoll.
The Tayport FC we know today, when established in 1947, was originally an Alliance team but moved up a level in 1950 and introduced their own Alliance XI in 1953. Over the years the Alliance team’s success had been limited to three Alliance Cup wins but in 1983/84 came a first league success, the Alliance Division 2 title.
After starting the season in indifferent form in the middle of August with two wins, a draw and a defeat through to mid-October, the team embarked on an amazing run of success, winning their next 21 successive league games. That run ended, as did their record of having scored in every previous league game, when the final league game of the season was drawn 0-0 at home to Riverside Athletic, the team which, back in August, had inflicted the season’s solitary league defeat.
119 league goals were shared by 23 different players (and four opponents’ own goals). Jimmy Shields (23), Ian Ness (18) and Roy Lessels (13) scored the majority.
Tayport were denied a cup and league double when they lost the Alliance Cup Final, beaten 3-0 by Broughty United.
Adding 5 Lunan Trophy matches (won 1, drew 2, lost 2) to 5 Alliance Cup matches brought Tayport’s Alliance team’s total in 1983/84 to 36 competitive matches. Quite a schedule considering the team didn’t play a match for eight weeks from the middle of December until 11th February.
Most appearances were by:
George Hayter (20)
John Aitken (34) Roy Shaw (27) Davie Blair (19) Ian Brown (17)
John Fernie (17) Mark Whiteside (25) John Cairney (25)
Ian Ness (25) Jimmy Shields (28) Roy Lessels (23)
Frank Feechan (26) Neil Robertson (19) Des Docherty (17) Ian Lees (15)
A sponsor’s name or logo on football shirts was prohibited back in the early 80s but when such antiquated rules were at first slightly relaxed, Tayport FC was quickly off the mark to secure sponsorship from local Timber Merchants James Donaldson & Sons, hence the firm’s logo on the shirts which the Alliance team was wearing in this photograph. Of course, the fact that club chairman Eddie Stewart was a long time Donaldson employee at its Tayport base was merely a coincidence!
James Donaldson & Sons, founded in Tayport in 1860, is no longer based in Tayport but has since developed into a major national company with 31 sites nationwide, over 1,000 employees and a turnover of £225m in 2019.