Obituary: Sammy Reid, footballer

Scorer of goal that produced the biggest shock in Scottish Cup football history. Picture: SNS
Scorer of goal that produced the biggest shock in Scottish Cup football history. Picture: SNS
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BORN: 13 October, 1939 in Craigneuk, Wishaw. Died: 9 November, 2014 in Wishaw, aged 75.

Sammy Reid scored the goal that stunned the football world on 28 January, 1967 when the result “Berwick Rangers 1 Rangers 0” first clattered through the Saturday sports programme teleprinters; 13,000 fans of both sides jammed into Berwick’s homely Shielfield stadium already knew and found it as hard to believe.

But Reid, “a feisty, strong- minded man,” a qualified bricklayer from Lanarkshire mining stock, always maintained that a playing career cut short by injury was about much more than one astonishing Scottish cup result. When interviewed for the book The Lone Rangers, he said: “It has always bothered me that I’m seen as the guy who beat Rangers. That’s unfair on the other 10 men on the pitch. It’s lovely to have scored and be remembered for it, but I have only played one part. It was entirely a team effort.”

He added: “All my life I’ve been remembered for scoring a goal against Rangers at Berwick. Outwith this district (Wishaw) it’s always about that goal. But in this area I’m remembered for playing with one of the greatest footballing teams ever in Scotland. I’m not meaning to detract from the Berwick result, but you’ve got to put it in perspective.”

The greatest footballing team referred to was the Motherwell side tagged “Ancell’s Babes”. In the 1959/60 season Bobby Ancell’s side, led by a skilful, and diminutive, forward line of Hunter, Reid, St John, Quinn and Weir beat Rangers an unprecedented four times in succession.

Reid, with strength that belied his 5ft 4in, had made his Motherwell debut at 18 against Airdrie in 1958 after playing for Scotland in schoolboy internationals as a pupil at Wishaw High School. During Motherwell’s great run he was spotted by Bill Shankly, Liverpool’s new manager, and was transferred for £8,000 in early 1960. He put a brave face on what happened: “I was Shankly’s first signing, but I was also his first flop.”

Injury soon after the transfer sidelined him for months and he was transferred to Falkirk later the same year without appearing in the Liverpool first team. Ian St John, who went on to a successful and high-profile career after his Motherwell to Liverpool transfer two years later, believed that Reid could have had “a sensational career” if he had not been so unlucky with injuries.

After scoring 25 goals in 70 games for Falkirk, Reid moved to Clyde, but another serious injury, to a knee, kept him out for a year before he moved to Berwick, regular goal scoring, and that result.

Part of the aftermath of that game is well known. Rangers manager Scott Symon was sacked and several internationals never played for the club again. Less well known is that Berwick’s goalkeeper player- manager Jock Wallace, a legendary hard man who went on 
to managerial success with Rangers, soon dismantled his winning side.

Reid was one of the casualties. Told that his first game of the following season would be with the reserves at Chirnside, Reid said: “I’ve never even heard of Chirnside. Jock was saying ‘You may be important because you scored that goal, but you’re not more important than the manager’. I reckon I could have played for another three years at Berwick, no bother.”

Instead he was soon at Dumbarton, where he played one more season before the troublesome knee injury ended his career. Disappointment at his treatment by Wallace extended in later years to a belief that members of the cup-tie winning team were treated offhandedly by successive Berwick boards.

Russell Craig, one of Reid’s closest friends and an outstanding defensive player in the Rangers game, said: “Sammy was always a feisty, strong-minded guy and once he got an idea in his head it was difficult to change his mind.”

But Craig succeeded. The present Berwick board under chairman Brian Porteous made big efforts to reassure Reid that his efforts were remembered and appreciated. Recently he had made several visits to Shielfield with Craig, and was due to return for a cup tie at the end of this month. Instead, this Saturday there will be a minute’s silence to commemorate his death.

After leaving football, Reid also left building work to become a gearcutter with mining equipment company Anderson Boyes. He was most often seen at Motherwell games, played golf, bowled and was a keen, and meticulous, gardener in spite of ill-health that included a triple heart bypass and prostate cancer.

“But he was a strong wee man,’ said Craig. “He had slowed down, with hearing aids and eyesight problems too, but he never gave up. He was a happy man.”

Reid died suddenly at home on Sunday after a heart attack. He is survived by his wife of 19 years Andrena, two sons from his first marriage, Stewart and Colin, and stepsons Graham and Ross.