Football isn’t always associated with charity, but a local man changed that for Falkirk in 1961.
Charles “Chic” Napier
For most people, the only time that the words “charity” and “football” are connected is at the annual FA Charity Shield, a concept never adopted in Scotland.
It was often left to individuals to arrange any charitable matches and one such was Charles “Chic” Napier. A noted footballer before World War II, he was the son of the Falkirk secretary (1898–1900). Charles was born in Bainsford in 1910 and made the normal pathway of the time, from juvenile to junior to senior football, via Cowie Thistle to Alva Albion Rangers, and then to Glasgow Celtic in 1929. A popular player with the Hoops, he won Scottish Cup medals and full international caps and was considered a crowd-pleaser in his day.
Derby County paid £5000 for him in 1935 and he continued to do well before moving to Sheffield Wednesday in 1937. Then the war intervened, and he was loaned to his local club Falkirk for the duration of the hostilities, even managing a game for Scotland at Newcastle in 1939. He wound up his playing career at Stenhousemuir in 1948.
It was during the war that he thought of organising teams to play in charity matches in the local area. The game, which is detailed below, was in 1961 and by that point over £3,000 had been raised for charities, a considerable sum at the time.
The Big Day
Newtown Park, Bo’ness was the venue as a team of former Bo’ness United players lined up against Charlie Napier’s Select, which was an ex-senior combination. The match was for the benefit of the Bo’ness Old Age Pensioners Association.
The select side was McFeat (ex-Falkirk); Wilson (ex-Falkirk), Cairns (ex-Hibs); Gallacher (ex-Falkirk), Wilson (ex-Alloa), Mackie (ex-Partick Thistle); McKinnon (ex-Blackburn Rovers), Robertson (ex-Blairhall Colliery), White (ex-Blackburn Rovers), Mulhall (ex-Albion Rovers) and Anderson (ex-Dunfermline).
In goal for the Bo’ness side was Hugh Ronald, a veteran of nearly 200 games. The full-backs were Jim Woods and Bobby Gibb; the latter went on to play for Partick Thistle. The half-back line was Willie Mason, later of Motherwell, Andy McBlain who played nearly 250 games and an “outsider” George Gray, formerly of Dalkeith Thistle. He stayed in Bo’ness so was considered eligible!
Up front, at outside-right was Willie Wilson, the scorer of winning goals in two cup finals in 1948, firstly the Junior Cup against Irvine Meadow, then the Brown Cup against Arniston Rangers. He later joined St. Mirren. Inside him was Ian Neillands, who went on to join Rangers. The centre-forward was Rab McLintock, the scorer of two goals when Bo’ness United met Linlithgow Rose for the first time in 1949. Davie Ferguson, ex-Alloa and Coventry was another outsider who, again, resided in Bo’ness. The left winger was Jim McMillan, who had been a left-back in his short spell at Newtown.
The Select opened the scoring on the half-hour mark when Willie White hooked home a cross from his former club mate McKinnon. Just before the break Ian Neillands swept a low shot past ‘keeper Archie McFeat to square matters. The winner came ten minutes from time when Rab McLintock flicked a Wilson corner, first-time, into the corner of the net.
The local side had won 2-1 but the score was immaterial as over £30 was raised from the game.
By Don Burns, Great Place volunteer 2020.