Glenbuck Cherrypickers 5-aside

For 30 years I have lived on the northern edge of the Southern Uplands of Scotland overlooking Glenbuck Loch and the open cast coalmine which has eradicated the once thriving mining village of Glenbuck.

Glenbuck is the site where the best Scottish example of a flanged Bronze Age Axehead was found and it was an early centre of pig iron smelting and possibly (pre Coalbrookedale) of making steel.

Mentioned in Robert Burn's poem 'The Brig of Ayr', Glenbuck's heyday was the 50 years from 1870 when the village had a thriving coal mine and 1200 inhabitants.

As such it was not much different from many other similar villages, but today Glenbuck is remembered for its place in the history of football. Its junior team established a great reputation for it self and became famous as a nursery of footballers as year after year a succession of Glenbuck lads passed into senior football clubs thoughout the UK as well as being selected to play for Scotland.

Today the best 'kennt' name is that of Bill Shankly, 1915 - 1981, who - although just too young to have played for the Cherrypickers - was capped for Scotland and went on to become manager for Liverpool FC, 1959 - 1974.

Originally known as Glenbuck Athlectic playing in white jerseys and black pants on the homeground of Burnside Park, the team changed its name around the turn of the century to that of The Glenbuck Cherrypickers. It is not clear whether a prank with a basket of cherries or the connection with the 11th Hussars (who wore cherry coloured breeches and were known as the Cherrypickers) or the fact that some of the work in the mine consisted of sorting good lumps of coal from stones caused the name change!

No account of Glenbuck would be complete without reference to the five-aside game. It was played in the summer months and were a feature of most annual shows and gala days. It was not infrequent that five-aside competitions would last all day, many teams playing hours on end. In Glenbuck the teams often consisted entirely of family groups, - one of them winning 40 games out of 41!

In 1901 two Glenbuck lads, Alec Tait and Alec Brown were members of the Tottenham Hotspur team which won the English Cup that year with all the goals scored in the semifinal and final scored by the latter man. Such was the respect for these men that later in the year the the gold cup was brought to Glenbuck and displayed in the shop window!

The following year Alec Brown was capped for Scotland and it was he who scored at the moment of the Ibrox Disaster , 1902.

Serendipitously, having spent a spring day cherrypicking red dogwood (Cornus) around Glenbuck Loch for use in my piece, 'The Glenbuck Cherrypickers Five-aside', in this exhibition, I returned home to find that it was the day of the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster.....

The five small baskets illustrate different basketmaking traditions from as far apart as Catalonia and Shetland and use techniques such as waling, slewing, pairing, randing, bordering off and even a couple of 'God's Eyes!