A CONCISE POST WAR HISTORY OF THE RED LICHTIES

© Fraser Clyne

Part Fourteen: 1958-59

The long suffering Arbroath fans were given plenty to cheer when promotion to the First Division was achieved at the end of one of the most remarkable season's in the club's history. Much of the success was due to the incredible scoring feats of Dave Easson, the 22 year-old centre forward signed from Dundee, who enjoyed an amazing first campaign in a maroon shirt. Easson played in all 36 league games and was Britain's top scorer with 45 of the 86 goals Arbroath recorded during the campaign. He added another six goals to his tally from 11 cup tie appearances. His overall total of 51 pipped Ayr United's Peter Price who notched 50. Easson grabbed seven hat-tricks and, in an unforgettable 5-4 victory over Dumbarton at Gayfield, he scored all five of Arbroath's goals while Sons' striker Hughie Gallacher - the ex-Arbroath favourite - got all four of the visitors' goals. Ironic, too, that in goal for Dumbarton that day was former Arbroath keeper John Bonnar, one of the heroes of the Lichties side that reached the Scottish Cup semi final in 1946-47. Easson obviously liked playing Dumbarton because he scored four more goals against them in two league cup ties that season. Dave's tally also broke the previous Arbroath record of 39 goals in one season set by Willie Gibb in 1928-29. Gibb was one of the first men to congratulate Easson on his achievement. With such a prolific scoring record it was no surprise that rumours spread around the town that Dave was in line for a possible Scotland call-up. Unfortunately the Lichties striker never received any international recognition, but he still warrants a prominent place in Scottish footballing history because of his achievements during this remarkable season.

Arbroath's surge to promotion was maintained despite a terrible fire, following a League Cup quarter final tie with Partick Thistle, which destroyed the main part of the grandstand. The Jags had secured a 1-1 draw in the September midweek fixture to eliminate Arbroath from the competition on a 3-2  aggregate score. The fire took hold in the early hours of the following morning and the club lost most of its historic records and all of the player's kit and boots. The setback only seemed to fuel the Lichties determination, however, and Gayfield became something of a fortress in the months ahead. Of the 18 league games played there, Arbroath won 15 and lost just once – to eventual champions Ayr United. 

Dave Easson may have been in the spotlight throughout the season,but others made a he contribution to the promotion effort. Goalkeeper Bobby Williamson matched Dave by playing in all  47 league and cup ties. Jake Young and Jim Fraser weren't far behind with 46 and 45 appearances respectively. John Brown and Gibby Shirreffs were joint second top club scorers with 12 goals apiece. Shirreffs had the notable achievement of scoring all four Lichties goals in a 4-3 away League Cup win at Stranraer. Early in the season Ron Sharp and Willie Fernie were transferred to Doncaster Rovers for a combined fee of £8000 but approaches for Easson and others were resisted.

An interesting feature of the pre-season preparations was the 5 aside tournament at gayfield which was won by Celtic in front of a 2,300 crowd. Paddy Crerand scored two of Celtic's goals in a 3-0 win over Forfar in the final.

There was no luck for the Lichties in the Scottish Cup as First Division Aberdeen brushed the Maroons aside 3-0 at Pittodrie. The Dons went on to reach the Final but lost 3-1 to St. Mirren.

Next: Lichties Tough Time in Top Division

SCOTTISH LEAGUE SECOND DIVISION 1958-59

                                   P          Pts       

Ayr United                 36         60

Arbroath                    36         51

Stenhousemuir            36         46

Dumbarton                 36         45

Brechin City               36         42

St Johnstone               36         40

Hamilton Accies          36         38

East Fife                     36         38        

Berwick rangers          36         38

Albion Rovers             36         35

Morton                       36         34

Forfar                         36         33

Alloa                           36         31

Cowdenbeath              36         31

East Stirling                 36         28

Stranraer                     36         27

Dundee United            36         25

Queen's Park              36         24

Montorse                     36         18