A CONCISE POST WAR HISTORY OF THE RED LICHTIES

© Fraser Clyne

Part Thirteen: 1957-58

Arbroath boss and former team captain Tommy Gray left the club to take charge of Dundee United during the close season, but this didn't prevent the Lichties from enjoying their best league campaign since the end of World War Two. Aberdeen-based Chris Anderson took on an important role as scout and advisor to the club committee, and his experience proved invaluable. Anderson scoured the ranks of Aberdeen junior football to great effect and brought  some top class prospects to Gayfield. This strategy paid big dividends and for a long time it looked as though promotion might be a achieved as the Maroons battled with Stirling Albion, Dunfermline and Dumbarton at the head of the table. Eventually, however, the Gayfield side had to settle for third place with Stirling taking the title and the Pars filling the other promotion slot. Rumours circulated to the effect that the committee didn't want the club to go up to the First Division in any case because of the increased costs involved, but secretary Wilf Forrester denied these suggestions at the annual general meeting.

he season had its usual highs and lows. During a remarkable four day spell in mid September the Lichties conceded ten goals in two games. First came a dismal 5-0 drubbing from Dunfermline at Gayfield,(three of the goals coming in the final ten minutes). That was followed by an amazing 5-5 draw with Tommy Gray's Dundee United at Tannadice (a repeat of the scoreline at the same venue in season 1948-49). Arbroath's goals came from a John Brown hat-trick, Jim Fernie and Frank McGrory. McGrory, a Scottish amateur international bagged 16 goals during the first half of the season and that form led to him being signed by Dundee who handed over a £1000 cheque in return. Highlights included a 2-1 New Year's Day victory over Forfar at Gayfield with Gibby Shirreffs grabbing the winner, and taking revenge over Dunfermline just 24 hours later when a Fernie goal gave the Lichties the edge at East End Park..

Promotion prospects looked great after goals from Ron Sharp (2) and Fernie earned a 3-2 win over eventual league champions Stirling Albion  in late March, but the great hopes faded into oblivion a fortnight later when Angus rivals Brechin City handed out a 2-1 defeat in front of 4,100 fans at Glebe Park to end Arbroath's hopes of stepping up to the top division.

The Scottish Cup gave Arbroath an away draw against high flying First Division Clyde. The Lichties, who had to do without influential defender Jim Fraser, played bravely but were eventually outclassed 4-0. The Shawfield side, who finished fourth in the league that season, went on to win the Cup, beating Hibernian 1-0 in the final.

Arbroath ended the season by defeating Forfar 3-2 to win the Forfarshire Cup in front of a crowd of 3000 at Glebe Park. It was the 18th time the Lichties had won the famous old trophy – and surprisingly the club has never won it again since then.

Away from Gayfield, former Lichties player Jim Milne was celebrating after helping Hearts win the First Division title ahead of Rangers and Celtic. Jim had been with the Jam Tarts for eight seasons after being freed by Arbroath.

Next: Promotion at last.

 

SCOTTISH LEAGUE SECOND DIVISION 1957-58

                                              P          Pts         

Stirling Albion                36         55

Dunfermline Athletic       36         53

Arbroath                        36         47

Dumbarton                    36         44

Ayr United                     36         42

Cowdenbeath                 36         42

Brechin City                   36         40

Alloa                             36         39

Dundee United               36         33

Hamilton Accies             36         33

St Johnstone                  36         33

Forfar Athletic               36         32

Morton                          36         32

Momtrose                      36         32

East stirling                    36         29

Stenhousemuir               36         29

Albion Rovers                36         29

Stranraer                       36         25

Berwick Rangers            36         15