Tolsta FC in the Seventies

Great football years - the 1970s

Having supplied players of a very high calibre to Back FC in the sixties and seventies in particular, it was perhaps no surprise when people involved in football felt that there was sufficient interest and playing potential in Tolsta to form a club.

A committee was eventually elected in 1976 and the office bearers were as follows: Chairperson: Alex. A . Smith; Vice Chairperson: John Murray; Secretary: Donald John Graham; Treasurer: Angus M. Mackenzie. The team was managed by Tommy Dodds of the Crown Hotel.

Tolsta initially performed creditably, although the club had to endure a couple of lean years in terms of senior eleven-aside success. In 1978, however, the Club, then managed by player/manager Iain ‘Patchy’ Murray, made it to the Jock Stein Cup Final. Tolsta had beaten a very good Ness team in a memorable semi-final on the Tolsta pitch, on penalties, and had the dubious privilege of meeting Harris in the final. At this time, Harris had a very strong team, with players such as the Morrison brothers, Fraser, Anderson, ‘Neillie’ Morrison, ‘ Walrus’ and Colin Campbell, to name but a few. ‘Neillie’ Morrison and Colin Campbell were exceptional players and Campbell went on to play professional football with Hibs and played in a Scottish Cup Final.

The final was played at Coll machair in front of a large crowd of between 300-400 people. It was probably a surprise to most of them when Tolsta, playing well above their league form, actually took the lead in the second half through a penalty by A.Murray and kept it until eleven minutes from the end. Unfortunately, a defensive lapse by MacLean allowed Campbell to equalise and Tolsta’s best chance was lost. The Replay was won easily 4-1 by Harris with another penalty from A.Murray being Tolsta’s only consolation. Tolsta’s team in both finals was as follows: ‘Coy’ MacKay; ‘Freddie’ MacIver, ‘Patchy’ Murray, ‘Dodo’ Sinclair, Ali ‘Bàn’ MacLennan, ‘Slabby’ Campbell, ‘Foxy’ Maclean, Eddie Mackenzie (who unfortunately broke his leg in the first game), ‘Dol’ MacDonald (Captain), ‘Charlton’ Murray, Willie John Smith, ‘Flute’ MacLeod, ‘Drew’ MacIver, ‘Doonie’ Macleod , ‘Lobo’ MacDonald, and Johnny MacDonald.

Tolsta had another good run in the same competition the following year and after beating Rovers 4-1 and Lochs by 3-0 in the first and second rounds respectively, Tolsta met Harris in the semi-final. In the interim period, the team had acquired a number of new players which strengthened the squad, including Iain GG Campbell, ‘Smithy’ Smith from Uist, the late George Murray, who returned from Back FC, two talented youngsters from Stornoway in David Hanlon and Colin Macrae, Norman Macleod and Alex Don Maciver.

The game was played at Tong pitch and the Lewis and Harris champions of the previous year were as strong as ever, with Brian Rodman the former Kilmarnock (and Scottish internationalist I think) player in their ranks. In a tense game, goals from A.Murray and ‘Lobo’ MacDonald ensured that Tolsta were level at the break, but a goal from Colin MacRae in the seventy eighth minute secured the tie and a passage into the Jock Stein Cup Final of 1979 against the ‘auld enemy’ Back.

As usual, Tolsta were underdogs against a Back team including such luminaries as McCarthy, ‘Dano’ and ‘Nero’ MacDonald, ‘Bloxy’ Murray and ‘DA’ MacLeod. On this occasion, however, Tolsta had some real quality players on view and played superbly as a team. George Murray was inspirational in a defensive partnership with MacLennan, and the skilful combination of Hanlon and MacRae in midfield probably made the difference in the end. Hanlon made the first goal for ‘Lobo’ MacDonald and scored the second with an individual piece of brilliance to give Tolsta their first cup triumph in their fourth year since formation.

Jock Stein Cup winners

The win was well received by the neutrals in the crowd and ‘Dol’ MacDonald, who captained the team, collected the cup on behalf of jubilant players. It was a fitting conclusion to some hard work done by the players and officials of the Club in the previous three years, notably by ‘Patchy’ Murray.

Junior Football : Ladywell Cup 1979

It should also be remembered that the newly formed Tolsta Junior Football team also won the Ladywell Cup that year with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Ness. In addition to the talents of the aforementioned Hanlon and MacRae, and ‘Sweeney' MacSween, the team was liberally sprinkled with Uibhisteachs such as James Macletchie, John and Peter Mcphee, ‘Smithy’ Smith, and Roddy Mcphee. The Tolsta contingent consisted of Duncan Murray, Murdo MacKay and ‘Freddie’ MacIver. There was no truth in the rumour that a representative of the club stood at the entrance of Gibson Hostel with the signing-on book at each fresh student intake from the Uists and beyond!