'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Saturday, 4 August 2018

The Sunday Post #2 In The Season Of The Year

Hearts pre-season training, Dreghorn, in the lea of the Pentland Hills

Today sees the opening matches of the Scottish leagues’ football season and for many Oxgangers the annual ritual may be one going back over half a century. Indeed, I noticed this morning that Colin Laidlaw was travelling up from Manchester for Hearts’ opening away match at Hamilton - he’ll be a happy boy with a 4-1 victory.

Two aspects of the pre-season build-up were going up to Ewarts at The Broadway to buy in my copy of the Wee Red Book and to go along to the former Polo Fields at Dreghorn to see Hearts undertaking their pre-season training.

Extract from Retep Nnamffoh’s Letts’ Schoolboy Diary
Tuesday, 20th July, 1971
‘I was out on the dawn patrol doing the milk round. It wasn’t the most enjoyable of mornings as I had an argument with our new boss; he's very different from Sid.
I'm hoping these girls come up later on.
Former Polo Fields, Dreghorn (Dave Hennicker)
In the afternoon a bunch of us walked up to the Army's Polo Fields at Dreghorn to watch Hearts doing their pre-season training. They were all there including Donald Ford; Jim Cruikshank; Alan Anderson; as well as Oxgangs' Eric Carruthers. It was just a wee ten minute walk up the road for him from Oxgangs Farm Drive!

We all walked back home together; I then had to head straight down to Bairds Newsagents at Morningside Drive to collect my newspapers to sell up at the City Hospital. I'm a busy boy. It was no wonder I fell asleep on the couch afterwards; now I'm enjoying my crisps 'n juice.’

Postscript: Comment from Colin Laidlaw: 'I well remember doing this. I used to be pleased as punch when we used to get a lift home on the Hearts bus and they'd drop us off in the 'Drive'. John Harvey the manager/trainer at the time used to go to great lengths to stop the players swearing. When we didn't get a lift I fondly remember the walk back home as well; we used to gather wild strawberries growing at the roadside.'
So, did you support Hearts or Hibs?

Attending football matches at Tynecastle or Easter Road was a right of passage for many boys from Oxgangs.

My father, Ken Hoffmann, was a rugby man. I only ever remember going to a single match with him - it was Hibs v Dunfermline and I recall him getting into an argument with a Hibbie when Roy Barrie the combustible Dunfermline player got sent off - I actually sided with Ken on this occasion, because there was a sense of injustice about the decision. The other thing I admire today, from a distance, was that Ken subscribed to the philosophy that it was better to play the game than to spectate.

Boo-Boo Hanlon, back garden, 6 Oxgangs Avenue

At our stair (6 Oxgangs Avenue) I think John Duffy (6/8) attended games with his dad; he was a Celtic supporter. Boo-Boo Hanlon must have been too - see above! Colin Hanlon was a Hearts man and a regular at Tynecastle in later years. Alan Hanlon was perhaps too young back then, whilst for all his enthusiasm for football, I can't recall if Michael went along or not. Michael, Colin or Alan - if you're reading the blog, please let us know!

Douglas Blades (6/6) and Gavin Swanson (6/1) were completely uninterested in footie - indeed they may never have ever kicked a ball in their lives. Although Iain Hoffmann played a wee bit he only ever went to a match on rare occasions, but he was a Hearts man - I seem to recall us going to see Hearts v Brechin City of all matches on Saturday, 27th January, 1968.

For a season or two I attended Hibs matches in the company of the Allans from 4/7 Oxgangs Avenue - this was with Andy and Gavin Allan and one or two of their pals who attended the Catholic secondary school.

It was exciting stuff - good crowds; often it was sunny; the green and white programmes reflecting the strip; and some good players on the pitch - Bobby Duncan; Pat Stanton; Peter Cormack; Peter Marinello - there was a real buzz about such outings

Today I'm not a supporter, but when Hearts met Hibs in the Scottish Cup Final a few years back, my heart was very much with the Hearts - my instinct tells me that if I should follow any team then it is Hearts. When I move back to Edinburgh I’ll invest in a season ticket.

Perversely, for a while I also used to attend Raith Rovers matches at Kirkcaldy with a slightly older Rovers supporter called Kenny from Oxgangs Crescent - it was good fun getting the train from Haymarket to their ground which still boasted an old siren from the Second World War.

So was it Hearts or Hibs or indeed Raith Rovers? Well, ironically, at that time I also 'followed' Rangers because I was so close to my Glasgow born grandfather, but never attended one of their matches back then – my father stipulated that we weren't allowed to go along to any games involving The Old Firm because of potential trouble.

Today, my local team is Ross County – relegated last season, but as I type this they’ve just won their opening game 1-0 against Alloa Atletic FC with a goal two minutes from time - 'Come away the County!'

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