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Fairydean legend lampoons local football

Published: 18 Mar 2009 17:300 comments

ONE of Gala Fairydean"s greatest ever players has hit out at falling standards in local football.

Despite approaching his 50th birthday Alan Notman claims he could still get a game for most Border clubs.

And that his long-departed grandmother could have become a fully-qualified coach under the easily-to-achieve badge system.

Notman won five East of Scotland league titles with the Dean and his hometown team, Vale of Leithen, during a glittering career in the 1980s.

His eye-catching midfield play won him several offers of contracts from the bigger clubs and an army of fans closer to home.

But the 49-year-old, who can be found most weeks in the crowds at Victoria Park, Netherdale or Yarrow Park, has hit out at the poor state of the local game.

Notman told the Border Telegraph: 'When I first started playing the top four teams in the East of Scotland were Gala, Vale, Selkirk and Hawick. They were full of great players who put football first - you had the likes of the Ronnie and Ian Frizzel, Davie Dick, Fraser Lothian, Willie Anderson, Bruce Noble, Paul Loughran and Jed Mather, to mention just a few, at Gala Fairydean. Big Jaybo Gray and Alan Thomson were up at the Vale and over at Selkirk you had the likes of Sandy Bell, Chalky Whitehead, Tom Fairgrieve, Moray McLaren and Kenny Rutherford.

'I can remember Davie Dick being best man at a wedding yet he still turned up at the game in his top hat and tails.

'I don"t see that kind of commitment these days. The first thing players ask when you want to sign them these days is how much are they getting.

'I"ve been asked by a few clubs to get involved but the attitude of players today puts me off. I"m confident I could still play in the middle of the park for most local teams and I"m an old man.'

The East Premier League has three Borders team this season, but Peebles are already relegated and Selkirk are favourites to join them on the drop.

And it is highly unlikely Gala Fairydean will command one of the two promotion spots up from the First Division.

Notman believes there is a lack of quality players progressing towards senior level, and feels a lack of quality coaching is to blame. He continued: 'I appreciate people do give up their time to help with kids coaching but I"ve done my badges and the people who were on the course with me couldn"t kick a ball in a straight line. My granny could get the coaching badges, it really is that easy.

'We need a lot more ex-players in the game at that early stage to get the most out of the youngsters.

'There have been a few good ones in recent years but there aren"t enough to improve local football. I really can"t see the likes of Gala Fairydean, Vale of Leithen or Selkirk getting back to those glory days.'

Selkirk travel to Edinburgh City tonight (Wednesday) in a bid to stay in the Premier League. The Souters host Edinburgh University at Yarrow Park on Saturday while Gala Fairydean make the trip to Stirling University.

*The funeral takes place today (Wednesday) of Tom Fairgrieve - one of Selkirk"s great players of the 1970s. Originally from Stow the centre-half was also on the books at Heart of Middlothian and Hawick Royal Albert. Tom died last week following a short illness. He was 59 years old.

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