Alan steps down after 51 years

Alan Davidson at Davidson Park
Alan Davidson at Davidson Park

Last month marked the end of an era at Davidson Park, as secretary Alan Davidson stood down after 51 years of service.

Alan, 68, was forced to give up his secretarial role as he was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease six years ago and the condition has made him unable to take minutes of committee meetings.

Over the years, Alan combined his standard secretarial duties with those of Treasurer and he was also an innovative and creative thinker when it came to fundraising initiatives.

Although he will no longer be dealing with paper work, Alan has no intention to leave the ground just yet.

The club held a player reunion last year and to celebrate his 50 years with the club, Alan was presented with a photo book charting memorable moments by former Longside player, coach and team manager, Doug Milne.

Before taking up a secretarial role within the club, Alan first took to the pitch as a player in July 1961 aged just 16.

He played in several outfield positions as well as goalkeeper before finally settling for the goalie’s jersey and went on to play almost 500 games for the club.

Alan said: “I played one game as centre and scored three goals but I was better as goalie and played 14 seasons.”

He represented Longside in the old ‘bogus’ Buchan League, the Buchan Central Amateur League and the Aberdeenshire Amateur League before retiring in 1975.

“I thought I would do more good off pitch because training was a chore and I preferred doing secretarial work.”

Alan had just turned 17 when he became secretary of the club on March 15 1962. Amazingly, he continued in that role until last month when, in keeping with his eye for meticulous detail, he stood down on March 15 2013 - 51 years to the day.

Since 1962, Alan and his fellow committee members have presided over many milestone moments in the club’s history. During this time, Longside have moved from borrowing fields for pitches to owning their own official ground - Davidson Park.

The area around the ground has seen various development projects completed to bring the ground up to the standard it is today.

A pavilion was erected during 1971 and was officially opened in 1972, when a Peterhead team which included Aberdeen’s very own Willie Miller, then farmed out for experience, provided the opposition.

As years passed, the pavilion was modified, a perimeter wall was built around the pitch, floodlights were first installed in 1978 and were upgraded several times throughout and a Social Club was built, all in the area of ground purchased by the club from J. Sainsbury Limited.

Fixtures and match reports were placed in newspapers and alongside them was the name of football grounds however, Longside didn’t have an official title.

Residents of the village were invited to put across their suggestions and the most popular names were put up for a vote.

Suggestions included the names of trees such as Glades Park and another was The Alan Davidson Endeavour, but Davidson Park was selected as one of the favourites.

Alan and his brother Harold voted against the name but the overwhelming majority of votes (80) deemed Davidson Park as the winner - quite fitting for the time Alan has devoted to the club.

On the playing side, the club made steady progress through the Aberdeenshire Amateur Divisions after leaving Buchan League Football in 1974 and today they play in Aberdeen Junior League Football.

The move from Amateur to Junior Football took place in time for the 1989/90 season and the highlights at that level are the club’s Premier League Championship triumphs in the 1999/00 and 00/01 seasons.

Alan said: “For Longside, a small village, to be in the Premier Division two years in a row was just amazing.”

One of Alan’s best moments from his 51 years at the club was a match between Longside and Sunnybank as he explained: “Sunnybank were top notch, all they had to do was to draw or win the match to win the title. Our centre, Gibby Stephens rocketed up, scored a goal and won us the title. I was stood behind the wire next to the goals and shouted, “boot it!” and he did. Sunnybank had great control and defence and would have been happy with 0-0 but our goal won.

“We had 600 people here that day and we would have been happy to get that every week, even though it was noisy, there was a great atmosphere.”

Alan acknowledges that his service and commitment to the club and the time required to allow him to do all he wanted to carry the club forward would not have been possible had it not been for the support and help of his understanding wife Phyllis who, incidentally has looked after the team’s kit since 1977.

After Longside’s recent match at Maud, Phyllis washed each pair of socks four times to get them looking as good as new.

Phyllis also helped out with the shop and refreshments alongside Aileen Bain.

Looking back on the players he encountered over 51 years, Alan said: “People often ask me who the best player here was and I say Zander Whyte. Teams of higher grades used to come in and ask to speak to him and he had at least two or three chances to leave but decided to stay here.

“Jim Bain was also an excellent player. He managed to score 152 goals in just three seasons between 1979 and 1981 before he moved to Peterhead in the Highland League. However he did come back to Longside and scored some more.”

He added: “Charlie Sim and Gibby Stephens were great for goal scoring, albeit just for one infamous goal! If I missed anyone, apologies but you will have to wait until my book comes out!”

Alan is currently working with ex-player Mickey Bain on producing a history of Longside Football Club using material dating as far back as 1933, but relying mainly on the records Alan himself has maintained during the past 51 years.

Mickey said: “Alan got in touch around this time last year with an idea to write a book about Longside F.C., little did I realise that he had made up his mind and wanted to do it right away so we decided if we were to write it we would do it properly. I’ve never written a book before so it was a case of start and see where it goes.

“We didn’t want to simply list 50 years of goals but it would settle arguments!”

Alan has stacks of records made up of around 50 books which is proving to take quite some time to get through. Mickey is writing the book in small sections and when finished, gives them to Alan so he can sort any mistakes.

The duo started the book at the end of summer last year and are currently sitting at 1984 which should give them a reasonable time to get it finished and published. They have already received two pre-orders from outside Longside. It is hoped the book will become popular not only with the public, but with players too and the way things are going it will do as Alan said: “I had one player ask me “who was the next to score?” and I answered, sorry you’ll ha ve to buy the book.”

Mickey added: “We couldn’t do this without the level of detail of Alan’s records.”

It would seem it is not just Alan’s own records that is helping them as he explained: “Over 50 years I collected cut-outs from papers and my wife kept saying “who will ever read that?” but we have.”