Netherdale men look to emulate heroes of ‘83

John Dalziel and George Graham
John Dalziel and George Graham

SO MANY permutations for Saturday’s results at Netherdale and The Greenyards are possible as to make predictions over the outcome a pretty thankless task, writes Laing Speirs.

But one thing is clear – if Gala win the Premiership it will have been over a very different set of opponents than in their last triumph in 1982-3.

Of the 14 sides in that much-recalled success for the Maroons, no fewer than 10 are now playing in lower divisions.

Only Hawick, Heriot’s and Melrose are still with Gala in this year’s competition, the first two of them taking second and third places 31 years ago.

And at Hawick, some folk are still recalling that the Greens didn’t finish their programme, being unable to settle on a date to play West of Scotland.

But it would have needed a win for Hawick by at least 109 points to snatch the title away from Netherdale.

The Gala side added the 1982-3 win to their two previous successes in the Schweppes National League in 1979-80 and 1980-1.

Netherdale was the home of a high-scoring outfit, Peter Dods being the top scorer in the first division with 141 points.

Don Ledingham and Jim Maitland led the try scorers in all the divisions, but it was scrum half Dave Bryson who took the headlines when he scored 34 points – then a club record – against Gordonians.

The only blemish on the Gala record was the early game against Hawick at Mansfield Park, when despite three penalties from Peter Dods, they went down 13-9 to the Greens.

But Gala finished their programme in style, three victories with more than 50 points each, setting up the final flurry that Hawick couldn’t match.

David Leslie led Gala in the last of their Scottish successes, but it was a team of all the talents.

Other internationalists wearing the Maroon jersey that year were Dods, Tom Smith, Derek White, Kenny Lawrie, Jim Aitken and Bobby Cunningham.

It will be no surprise to find a few of these names around the ropes on Saturday.