Tayport FC first visited Ougree, a suburb of Liege, in 1973 to participate in an Easter football tournament. Since then hundreds of Tayport footballers and supporters have spent thoroughly enjoyable weekends in Ougree, creating enduring friendships with the organising club AC Ougree.
How did it all start?
In October 1972, Dens Star AFC, a non-affiliated football team from Dundee, had accepted an invitation to play in an international tournament in Belgium from 20th to 23rd April 1973. At the end of January 1973, Dens Star AFC called off and fixed up a works team, Bett Brothers XI FC, to take their place. Bett Brothers also subsequently pulled out and on 1st February at the monthly meeting of the Midlands AFA, pretty much as a closing item and out of the blue, members were asked if any club would be interested in taking up the invitation.
Tayport was the only club which expressed an interest. The possibility of taking part was investigated and when the matter was formally raised at a Tayport FC committee meeting on 4 March 1973, it was agreed to accept the invitation. The rest, as they say, is history.
Extract from Minutes of committee meetings
A meeting was held in the hut on Sunday 4th March  at 11am. Those present were A J Oswald, A Ritchie, D Hughes, J Lindsay, W Kemp and I Mathers. Apologies were heard on behalf of E Simpson and F Bremner both of whom were working.
A trip to Liege, Belgium had been offered to the club to play in a three day tournament from April 20th to 23rd. The secretary had rough details and he informed the committee of these, also on the cost of buses. After discussion Alex Ritchie proposed that the Provost [of Tayport] be approached informally to see if the [Town] Council would be willing to help financially.
It was decided that if necessary, the club would subsidise the trip to the extent of £5 per head. Approaches were also to be made to other bodies to see if they would be willing to help.
It was decided that the committee would meet briefly next Sunday, 11th March, at 10 am to see what progress had been made and if it would be possible to make the trip.
A £5 deposit, it was decided, would have to be paid by those who had shown an interest in going on the trip. The money would have to be paid by next Sunday
With seven weeks to kick off, there was no time to waste. Efforts to secure sponsorship assistance for the trip had proved fruitless. All except the request to Tayport Town Council, as the club minutes noted.
A meeting of the Club Committee was held in the hut on Sunday 1st April at 11am. Those present were A J Oswald, F Bremner, D Hughes, E Simpson, W Kemp and I Mathers. Apologies were received on behalf of J Lindsay, A Walker and E Stewart
At the last meeting to discuss the Belgian trip the treasurer had pointed out that the majority of those wishing to go on the trip had paid their £5 deposit. It was officially decided to go ahead with tour.
The secretary had contacted the Tayport Town Council via Provost Pow and reported that the Council were willing to assist us in the following manner:- the club would pay the trip themselves and on our return we would submit a list of all expense incurred on the trip and the Town Council would ensure our funds would not suffer. The club would also submit a list of all those in our party, ages and occupations. The Town Council requested that one of their members, Mr W Goodwin, should accompany the club. It was unanimously agreed that Mr Goodwin would be very welcome to travel with the club party. F Bremner hoped that the behaviour of those going on the trip should be such that it would be a credit to the club.
It is to the eternal credit of the Provost, members of the Council and Town Clerk & Chamberlain Harry Wilson that the Town Council agreed to chip in.
List submitted to Town Council
*Lindsay Ancell (22). Player. Environmental Health Officer. Monifieth
Murray Anderson (20) Player. Joiner. Lochside Gardens
Gordon Brankin (18) Player. Trainee technician. Banknowe Drive
George Caldow (15) Player. Schoolboy. Ogilvy Street
Ronald Fleming (20) Player. Sales clerk. Broughty Ferry
Eddie Gilmour (20) Player. Trainee mechanical engineer. Jubilee Buildings
Douglas Henderson (23) Player. Languages teacher. Golf Crecent (working in France and will join party in Calais and act as interpreter)
*James Herd (23) Committee. Student teacher. Banknowe Drive
Alex Houston (28) Player. Research Assistant. Dundee
*David Hughes. Club chairman. Measurer Donaldson’s Sawmill. Banknowe Drive
*Bobby Jackson (23) Accordionist & cheerleader. Slater. West Lights
Andy Johnstone (21) Player. Trainee tax officer. Golf Crescent
Walter Kemp (21). Player & club treasurer. Insurance trainee. Cowgate
Frank Leslie (23) Player. Horticulturist. Cowgate
Ian Mathers (20) Player & committee. Trainee architectural technician. Banknowe Road
*James Mathers (38) Player. Service manager. Whitenhill
Albert Oswald (23) Player & club secretary. Environmental Health Officer.
*Alastair Oswald (20) Supporter. Horticulturist. Lochside Gardens
Ian Rae (19) Player. Student teacher. Lochee
*Andrew Robertson (21) Suppporter. Joiner. Tay Street
*Bruce Ross (20) Supporter. Trainee paper machine assistant. Glebe Gardens
Ian White (27) Player. Senior lab technician. Cupar
Raymond White (20) Player. Trainee technician. Broad Street.
*Edward Stewart (27) Committee. Yard foreman. Greenside Place
Sadly, as at August 2019, 46 years later, nine of the party marked * have passed away as has Councillor Walter Goodwin. The others still live locally, exceptions being Andy Johnstone who is in the Lothians as, we can guess, is George Caldow the youngest member of the party, now Head of SRUC Veterinary Services in Edinburgh. Alex Houston’s whereabouts are unknown.
Brechin City FC donated a match ball but Dundee United turned down a request saying that ‘it wasn’t club policy to donate footballs to amateur clubs.’
The late Andrew Robertson, one of those making the trip, agreed to construct a wooden first aid box.
The late Jim Herd designed a pennant and two dozen were produced as souvenirs for the Tayport players and for presentation to the other clubs in the eight club tournament from France, Germany and Belgium.
A coach and two drivers was hired from Williamson’s of Gauldry (now Moffat & Williamson) at a total cost of £481 including hovercraft fares.
The total cost for each of the 24 members on the trip was £16. With a few exceptions, most of the party were in their early 20s, one of the exceptions being club chairman Davie Hughes. Davie, the veteran of the party, was also a veteran of World War II. He had waded ashore on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and had continued on to Belgium and was keen to recapture some memories. In 1947 Davie Hughes was a founder member of the Tayport Football Club we know today.
Making arrangements with the organising club in those days wasn’t particularly easy but AC Ougree provided a contact, Margaret Schillings, a Glaswegian, who was mine host at a bar in Ougree, appropriately named Le Kilt.
On the Friday morning the intrepid travellers set off from Tayport’s War Memorial on their bus journey into the unknown. Few of the guys had been out of Scotland before, never mind abroad.
Tayport FC thus became the only Scots representatives left in Europe that season! Celtic, Hibs, Aberdeen and Partick Thistle, all having bitten the dust in the early stages of the European Cup, Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup respectively.
A memorable – and indeed unique experience for all members of the party – crossing the English Channel by hovercraft. Then through France and into Belgium towards Liege on the banks of the River Meuse, close to Germany, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Ougree a district of Seraing, a suburb of Liege, was at the time, the centre of the Belgian iron & steel industry. With factory chimneys belching out smoke and dust lying on every surface, it wasn’t the tourist trap some of the Tayport lads might have expected.
The team received a warm welcome from the locals and were billeted in a local primary school adjacent to the stadium.
Tayport FC’s historic first venture in Europe took place on Sunday morning 22nd April 1973 10.30 am kick-off v AC Ougree, the hosts and defending tournament champions.
First game – Sunday 22nd April 10.30am
Tayport 2 – 3 A.C. Ougree Scorers – R White & Ancell
Gordon Brankin, Walter Kemp, Ronnie Fleming, Ian Mathers, Jim Mathers, Lindsay Ancell, Albert Oswald, Doug Henderson, Raymond White, Ian White, Frank Leslie. Subs were Eddie Gilmour and Ian Rae.
Second game – Sunday 22nd April 4.30pm
Tayport 2-1 S.C. Fuchtorf (West Germany) Scorers – Oswald & Gilmour
Gordon Brankin, Walter Kemp, Ronnie Fleming, Ian Mathers, Jim Mathers, Eddie Gilmour, Albert Oswald, Doug Henderson, Raymond White, Ian White & Frank Leslie. Subs. – Lindsay Ancell and George Caldow
Third game – Monday 23rd April
A.S.O Calais (France) 0-0 Tayport (after 90mins)
Tayport won 5-4 on penalties (Henderson, R.White, Ancell, Oswald, I Mathers)
At the presentations at the Grand Bal du Tournoi that evening Tayport received three awards to take home. One for finishing in the top half of the competition, the Fair Play Trophy and an individual award for Doug Henderson for being voted the second best player in the tournament.
Long way home
After the Ball it was back on the bus and an overnight journey to Calais where a bleary eyed but happy bunch of players, committee and supporters caught the early morning hovercraft back across the English Channel.
The Courier & Advertiser of Thursday (below) of that week reported on the club’s successful trip with the Fife News carrying a comprehensive account of the venture.
Adjacent to the Courier report is an advert for Wm Low supermarket (later to be taken over by Tesco) which shows what you got for your money in 1973 but at £16 per head, the trip 46 years ago was good value and voted a great success by all.
The visit to Ougree’s annual tournament was to be repeated on many subsequent occasions and was the inspiration for the International Tournaments staged by Tayport FC during the 1980s.
A minute from the club’s AGM in June1973 noted:
The treasurer distributed the annual balance sheet which showed that £83.05 was in the bank and in hand was £30.75. It was noted that £204.44 spent on the Belgian Trip was to be refunded by the Tayport Town Council.
Well, not quite, as the letter below shows, but surely there would be no complaints!