Memories of a local hero ...

Ian with some of the newspaper cuttings and photos he received from Mr Bisset (Photo: Dave Scott).
Ian with some of the newspaper cuttings and photos he received from Mr Bisset (Photo: Dave Scott).
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A Cupar man who’s devoted most of his life to the local football team has been enjoying a trip down memory lane thanks to a surprise Christmas gift.

Ian Balsillie, whose name has been synonymous with Cupar Hearts AFC for decades, was taken aback when the postie arrived with a package containing a bundle of cuttings and other memorabilia commemorating what was arguably the team’s finest hour - the final of the Scottish Amateur Cup at Hampden Park in 1950.

The treasure trove had been sent by David Bisset, a former secretary of Cupar Hearts and treasurer of what was then Cupar Town Council.

He and Ian have kept in touch ever since 1972, when David relocated down south with his job at the British Sugar Corporation.

It was a sweltering hot day when Cupar Hearts took on Queen’s Park before a relatively modest crowd of around 6000.

According to newspaper reports of the time, the Fifers weren’t at all awed by their surroundings, and put on a courageous display.

In the end they were beaten by a single goal scored in the dying seconds of the game, but still arrived back in town to a heroes’ welcome, thanks in no small measure to the spirited performance by their goalie, 18-year-old Andy Curran.

Andy, who died in April 2013 at the age of 80, made such an impression on Hampden that day that the victorious team bore him aloft on their shoulders to the pavilion and even gave him the cup to carry.

At just 5’ 6”, Andy was nicknamed ‘Jack in the Box’ for his spirited performance, valiantly saving ball after ball until Jimmy Brown finally managed to put one past him in the 
89th minute.

Jack Harkness, a sports writer of the day, even went so far as describe Andy as the ‘hero of the day’ and the ‘Fifer who earned the freedom of Hampden.’

Before the match, Andy’s mum had sewn a lucky sixpence into his jersey, which was to remain in place throughout much of his playing career.

He took it back to Hampden in 2007 when Hearts once again made it through to the Scottish Amateur Cup final, this time to be defeated by a single goal by Drumchapel United.

The sixpence was presented to Cupar Hearts following his death by his wife Violet and daughters Avril and Linda.

Andy’s talents took him away from Cupar for a while when he left to play junior football, but he would returned years later as coach and bag man and remained a passionate supporter of the team.

He also spent many years writing the match reports.