beside the mission hall was often used and I am sure that I am not
the only one who remembers Johnnie Toppin's flying elbows. "Wee
Johnnie" is better known nowadays for his vociferous support of
the local teams, whether it be at Scottish Junior or boys club level.
Cuthill Park was a great place for many of our activities. We played
football, cricket, climbed trees, played on the swings, hunted for
birds' nests to look at the eggs, while Easter found us rolling
our eggs down the banking which was covered with wild primrose and
bluebells. Over the fence were the woods surrounding the golf course
where swarms of boys searched for elderberry sticks in preparation
for the annual stick throwing "battle" between Summerlee and Cuthill.
The two rival factions lined up facing each other on the open space
at the rear of Summerlee Street before making charges and throwing
their sticks at one another. I can never recall any casualties but
when we all retired the area was left strewn with sticks. Today,
the environmental health wallahs would "do their nuts" at such goings-on.
The Grange Miners Gala Day was our big day. Prior to the gala the
grass in Cuthill Park was scythed arid carted off. Gala Day saw
us all gathered on the open space in front of the mission hall.
Every boy and girl had a "tinnie", secured by a cord, slung over
their shoulders. The brass band of St Joseph's Boys Bugle Band would
march off, leading the procession to the park. Once there and if
the grass was dry, we would sit down in long rows and wait for the
tea and bags of cakes to be served. The sports followed, with prizes
for the fastest runners, while those who were not sports inclined
could enjoy themselves in other ways; and providing your money lasted
you could wander round the "wee shops" set up under the trees to
sell ice-cream, juice and sweets.
The decision to form a league for the "fitba" mad boys in the area
saw a rush of raffle books appearing in Cuthill, Summerlee and Morrison's
Haven, No one was safe until the boys had raised enough money to
kit out the teams. Mr McGuire, a miner from Summerlee, donated a
trophy to the league, which was won by the Summerlee Thistle. The
final was played on top of a coal bing which was the home ground
of one of the local juvenile teams who were known to us all as the
"Bing Boys". Few teams relished a visit to the "Bing", while it
was a very foolhardy referee who even considered giving a doubtful
decision against the home team. He was aware that the close proximity
of the beach could find him taking on an early salt water bath.
The formation of the 63rd Company of the Boys' Brigade was another
great event in our lives. Our first captain was Mr John Buchanan,
more popularly known as Johnny to all the boys. He could be a disciplinarian