Back in the day, my father-in-law used to play junior football. By all accounts he was a bit special as a left back and always been a big fan of football at all levels.
We knew he played for a few clubs before hanging up his boots to raise his family. Money was tight and a steady job had to take priority over his passion for the game.
We were going through some boxes of old photos recently and happened upon something genuinely interesting from 60 years ago…
You can probably guess, from the team logo, he played for Kilbirnie Ladeside FC for a time. They were very well known and respected back in the day and are still fighting the good fight; apparently they were the first junior team with their own website (no longer live).
This first photo is the regular Kilbirnie Ladeside first team for the 1949-50 season. It was a good season for The Blasties; the silverware was in abundance.
My father-in-law, John McKenna, appears in this photo (back row, third from the right). Had the wonders of colour photography been available then, you would be able to see the shock of red hair that earned him his imaginative nickname, “Ginger McKenna”.
Not the traditional build for a left back, his wiry frame meant he was fast and skilful on the ball, even in those days where it was a particularly punishing game with a heavy ball and what we would now consider primitive footwear.
I unfortunately don’t have any other names from this photo but would welcome details, should any readers be able to identify any of these fine fellows.
In the 1949-50 season, Kilbirnie Ladeside won four honours; something not to be sniffed at, either then or now. The following photograph shows the trophy cabinet containing the spoils of the season.
They won the Western League, The Ayrshire Cup, The Irvine and District Cup and the newly christened Land O’ Burns Cup* in this season. They were on fire.
Winning as much in one season is a pretty big thing, for any team. So I guess it was because it was so long ago, it’s not recorded either on the official Ladeside website, or fully on the Wiki entry for the team.
For additional authenticity, below are Ginger McKenna’s set of medals from the season as testimony to his part in the season-of-seasons for the club; below.
John has a bit of trouble remembering recent stuff these days but when I showed him the medals and photos, he remembered it like it was yesterday.
At the end of the glittering 1949-50 season, he was scouted for a sizeable (for those days) transfer fee, by Blantyre Celtic which was significantly closer to his home town of Rutherglen.
* the Land O’ Burns Cup (previously the Mauchline Cup) was won by 8 different teams in the ten seasons it was competed for. As Kilbirnie Ladeside were the first and last winners of the cup, they were allowed to keep it.