Tolsta FC in the Eighties
It was a decade that had started promisingly with an Eilean an Fhraoich Cup victory in 1981, however, by season 1989, the team had folded and was never to return to the league, although continuing to compete in the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup until 1998.
In 1982, Tolsta progressed to their third Jock Stein Cup Final in their short history having beaten Ness and Rovers by 3-1 scorelines. They met Athletic in the final and after a 2-2 draw, the game went to a replay which also ended in a 1-1 draw at the end of normal time. However, the Aths pulled away from a flagging Tolsta in extra time to score three more goals, with a late consolation from 'Soggo' MacDonald making it 4-2 to the Aths.
The Tolsta team was as follows : Angus 'Niggers' Nicholson, 'Spoonyan' Maclean, Duncan 'Dicey' Murray, 'Bugsy' Smith, G.Murray, 'Norrie B' MacLeod, 'Foxy' MacLean, 'Kiki ' MacRae, 'Charlton' Murray, 'Sweeney' MacSween, 'Soggo' MacDonald, 'Nero' MacDonald and Murdo MacKay. These games were refereed by Brian MacGinlay, a notable professional football referee of the time. Tolsta finished a creditable 3rd in the league that year and also reached the Acres Boys Club Cup (ABC) semi-final. They were unlucky to lose to Back on penalties in a replay, having previously beaten Harris 4-3, with four excellent goals from G.Murray, and Carloway 4-1.
The following year, most of the above players had another opportunity to play in a final as Tolsta contested and won their first ABC Cup Final, having beaten Lochs 2-1 in the semi. Tolsta beat a strong Ness team 2-1 and this was no mean achievement as Ness went on to become the first Western Isles team to win the Highland Amateur Cup at their first attempt. Although Ness had dominated the game and led 1-0 for a long period, a 'Kiki' MacRae equaliser and an 89th minute winner from 'Dol' MacDonald secured the trophy. In the same year, Tolsta beat Rovers 4-2 in the semi-final to reach the Lewis Cup Final for the time. This was also against Ness who raced into a 3-0 lead only to be pegged back by goals from Magnus Johnson (2) and David Hanlon by half time. However, a further three goals in the second period won the trophy for Ness 6-3. Tolsta finished 4th in the league that year and also won the Clydesdale Bank Cup at u-16 level.
1984 was a lean year in terms of silverware, but Tolsta returned to the Acres Boys' Club Final in 1985 having beaten United 5-0 and Point 4-3, after a replay.
Unfortunately they were to meet a rampant Ness team in the final and lost 6-1 despite the game being level at half time at 1-1. Tolsta finished 5th in the league that year. They made another ABC Cup Final in 86, having beaten Back in the semi 3-2 after a replay. The final was against Point in what was reportedly a poor game with ex-Tolsta player 'Soggo' MacDonald scoring a last minute winner to secure the trophy for Point. Incredibly, the same players were asked to travel to Uist the following day to fulfil a Highland Amateur Cup tie with North End, which they only lost in extra time.
While the draconian ways of that competition have not improved much over the years, one suspects and hopes that the Lewis and Harris Football Association would now have rearranged the cup final. The ABC Final, incidentally, was the game in which tough tackling full back 'Freddie' MacIver cemented his reputation as a defensive hard man.
Badly injured after five minutes, he walked off the park unaided, travelled to Uist to watch his team mates, and was subsequently admitted to hospital in Stornoway the following Monday with a broken ankle. Later in the year, a depleted Tolsta team lost the Eilean an Fhraoich Cup Final to Back 4-1 and finished 6th in the league.
1987 was another lean year, but Tolsta reached a third ABC cup Final in 88, in what proved to be their final season. They had despatched Aths and Point by 2-1 scorelines before defeating Lochs in the semi-final by 4-2 with goals from Wilson, MacKenzie and MacSween (2). Unfortunately, they were to lose the final 6-0 to Ness who really were the consistently dominant team of the 80s in what was a strong league. Tolsta finished sixth in the league in their final year.
It is apparent from team selections throughout the 80s that the net had been cast far and wide to ensure that Tolsta always fielded a decent team and at one time or another some of the best players in the islands had played for Club. Along with the locals and the usual collection of talented Uibhisteachs, Tolsta had fielded the excellent Johnson twins and David Hanlon from Stornoway, 'Nero' Macdonald from Back who went to star for Inverness Caley, Robbie MacKenzie from Lochs, and 'Sweeney' MacSween, a prolific goal scorer from Harris, to name but a few. Ultimately, the responsibility for the organisation of the Club, on and off the playing field, had rested on too few and the commitment of players and the committee had waned. It was and would have been a disappointment to the stalwarts who had done much to establish the Club in the mid 70's, as teams who drop out of the league rarely return, if at all, and a few of these are mentioned here (Rovers and United).
Tolsta FC was sponsored by ND Macleod for most of the 80s and the team turned out in that firm's colours of yellow and red. The team pictured here (c.1984) features that strip and many of the players who played for Tolsta during that period.