© Fraser Clyne

Part Fifteen: 1959-60

Arbroath returned to Scottish football's top division for the first time in 20 years with Chris Anderson at the helm as chief coach. It was to be a sobering experience for players and fans alike, however, as the Lichties found  the step-up in class somewhat daunting. Of the 34 league games played, Arbroath managed only four wins – all at Gayfield – and seven draws. Just two points were gathered away from home. Thirty-eight goals were scored and 106 conceded as the club finished bottom of the league and were relegated along with Stirling Albion. The reserve team, who attracted a crowd of more than 2200 for a game against Partick Thistle, also finished at the foot of their league.

Dave Easson, who had been Britain's top scorer in the previous year's promotion winning side, did extremely well to bag 14 league and three cup goals. Derek Grierson was next highest scorer with a tally of eight. Easson was one of three players to turn out in all 44 league and cup matches, the others being Tom McLevy and  Gibby Shirreffs. Goalkeeper Bobby Williamson notched up his 200th consecutive appearance for the Lichties against Dundee at Dens Park, but the home side showed no mercy by winning 5-0. The ‘keeper missed just one game throughout the campaign and ended the season having completed a total of 233 games for the Gayfield side since making his debut on New Year's Day 1955.

The Lichties biggest win was a remarkable 6-2 thumping of Scottish Cup holders St Mirren on January 2nd. The result provided ample revenge for the 8-1 defeat suffered earlier in the season at Paisley. One of the most memorable performances of the campaign, however, came at Ibrox where Arbroath earned a 1-1 draw. It was the first time the club had won a league point on the famous Rangers' ground.  Grierson put the visitors in front after seven minutes but the home side equalised though Ian McMillan just before half-time. Arbroath put on a solid defensive display in the second period to deny the home forwards any success.

Arbroath had made an earlier trip to Ibrox for a Scottish Cup tie but on that occasion two “own goals” in the opening nine minutes from McLevy and John Brown gave the Light Blues a 2-0 victory in front of 30,000 spectators. Rangers went on to win the trophy, beating Kilmarnock 2-0 in the final.

While the League and Scottish Cup brought little joy for Arbroath, the club did embark upon its most successful ever League Cup campaign. Despite losing twice to Albion Rovers in the group stages, the Lichties managed to finish top of a qualifying section which also included Dumbarton and Stenhousemuir. Raith Rovers were then defeated 4-3 on aggregate in a two-legged quarter final before Third Lanark crushed Arbroath 3-0 in the semi final played at Ibrox. Thirds were then beaten 2-1 by Hearts in the final. The Edinburgh side also went on to win the First Division title for the second time in three seasons.

Before the end of the season the club committee decided it would be necessary to appoint a new manager and former Falkirk, Hearts and Rangers player John Prentice was offered the job. The 33 year-old ex Scotland international took up his post for the final two games of the season.

Next: Back to Division Two


                                    P             Pts       

Hearts                           34            54

Kilmarnock                    34            50

Rangers                         34            42

Dundee                         34            42

Motherwell                    34            40

Clyde                            34            39

Hibernian                       34            35

Ayr United                     34            34

Celtic                            34            33

Partick Thistle                34            32

Raith Rovers                  34            31

Third Lanark                  34            30

Dunfermline                   34            29

St. Mirren                      34            28

Aberdeen                       34            28

Airdrie                           34            28

Stirling Albion                34            22

ARBROATH                34            15