A CONCISE POST WAR HISTORY OF THE RED LICHTIES

© Fraser Clyne

Part Twelve: 1956-57

The Lichties opened the season in some style by winning their group stage of the League Cup for the first time. Arbroath had never before done so well in this competition and much of the credit may have been due to manager Tommy Gray and skipper Chris Anderson arranging a week of full-time training for the team as a prelude to the normal pre-season regime. Victories over Forfar (3-0), Montose (6-1) and East Stirling (3-0) more than compensated for a 2-1 defeat by Albion Rovers and Arbroath topped their qualifying group on goal difference ahead of the Coatbridge club. To reach the quarter finals, however, a further hurdle had to be overcome in the form of a two-legged play-off with Dundee United. The Maroons looked to be in a commanding position after winning the opening match 2-0 in front of 2400 spectators at a waterlogged  Gayfield. Ex Third Lanark player Willie Vanermotten and Alex ‘Teal' Gray got the vital goals. But the return game at Tannadice, just two days later, turned into a nightmare. United scored after just three minutes and added a second before the interval. The Lichties went to pieces in the second half and United added a further three goals to send the visitors tumbling out of the cup.

The Scottish Cup campaign also got off to an encouraging start as the Maroons thrashed Highland League sides Rothes and Brora Rangers by 10-2 and 6-1 respectively. The results vindicated the opinion of club officials who were dismayed that the SFA had forced Arbroath to play in the preliminary rounds of the national competition against non-league opposition. A crowd of 2693 turned out at Gayfield for the Rothes game. Scottish amateur internationalist Frank McGrory led the rout with a hat-trick while the other Arbroath scorers were Ally Gunn (2), Vandermotten (2), Sharp (2)  and Kirkwood. The marksmen against Brora were Vanermotten (2), Kirkwood (2), Gunn and McGrory,  while Sharp missed a penalty. Progress in the tournament came to an abrupt end in the next round, however, when Angus neighbours Forfar bundled the Lichties out with a 3-1 win at Station Park

Some revenge was taken when Forfar were thrashed 5-1 in a league match at Gayfield later in the season. Arbroath's home form in general was excellent with the team notching 13 wins from the 18 league games played at Gayfield. Clyde, who ran away with the Second Division title by losing just one of 36 games and scoring 122 goals in the process, were one of just two teams to win at Arbroath during the season.  (Stranraer were the other). It was the away form which let the side down with 13 defeats on the road as the Lichties eventually finished in 10th position.

Captain Chris Anderson was forced to retire from the game early in the campaign after failing to fully recover from a series of injuries. He stayed with the club, however, to assist manager Tommy Gray.

Next: Challenging For Promotion

SCOTTISH LEAGUE SECOND DIVISION 1956-57

                                    P             Pts    

Clyde                            36            64

Third Lanark                  36            51

Cowdenbeath                 36            45

Morton                          36            43

Albion Rovers                36            42

Brechin City                   36            40

Stranraer                       36            40

Stirling Albion                36            39

Dumbarton                    36            38

Arbroath                      36            38

Hamilton Accies             36            36

St Johnstone                  36            34

Dundee United               36            34

Stenhousemuir               36            32

Alloa                             36            27

Forfar Athletic               36            23

Montrose                       36            21

Berwick Rangers           36            20

East Stirling                   36            17