DUNCAN NORMAN MACLEOD is of a vintage to remember the goal scoring, and goal saving, exploits of the likes of John ‘Chuck’ Macleod in the 1960s, writes Eric Mackinnon.
He can even cast his mind back further to his first ever Lochs match when he was taken in short trousers and a beaming smile as an excited seven-year-old back in the sixties.
But Macleod, current Lewis and Harris Football Association and Lochs FC secretary and Lochs FC club historian, insists the best side he has ever seen grace the Creagan Dubh turf was the Magnificent Maroons.
In fact he goes even further with his praise of the side as he reckons they should be ranked right up there on the pantheon of the all-time greats of island football and argues one of their star turns is infact the best EVER player to pull on the maroon shirt.
“For me three players stand out over my entire time watching Lochs. They are Kenny Macsween, Iain Murdo ‘Evel’ Matheson and at the top Andy Murray,” said Macleod.
“He just had so much poise, vision, the ability to glide past players, link defence into attack, keep everyone in the team together in the play and just his overall ability. I didn’t see all the Lochs players but I saw almost all of them between the 1960s and the current day and for me Andy is the best and has to be up there.”
Duncan Norman has been a regular fan on the Lochie touchline for almost half a century now and while he rates the modern era incumbent of the maroons as their best ever, he doesn’t see any reason why the trophy trail has to stop either.
“As a kid in the 1960s I watched a lot of Lochs matches. I can still remember my first ever two matches as a kid which were both at the Creagan Dubh – against Aths and the RAF,” he recalled.
“At the time the top players were guys like Rob, Chuck, Charlie, Don Neil, Billy and Kenny Macsween and they were a great side to watch.
“A lot of kids now follow the team to every game but when I was young it was only the home games we went to and I would enjoy making the walk from New Holdings to the Cregaan Dubh.
“I can even remember my first cup final which saw Lochs lose the EAF Cup in a replay against Back who famously had Andy Gray (future Scotland and Everton striker) playing for them,” he continued.
“I then dipped in and out of following Lochs between the late 1970s and mid 90s due to work commitments etc but I did see them from time to time before following the team again seriously in the more modern era when I started taking my daughters to the games.
“For me the current Lochs side have to be ranked right up there as the best ever side from the club I think. The team in the 1960s was very good too but when they were in their prime they were coming up against a side who could have been one of the best ever in island football in the Aths side of the era.
“Point were strong too then so 1960s circa Lochs probably didn’t get the recognition they deserved.
“The modern Lochs side we are talking about today have been so good that we have been a bit spoiled with the quality of the football they have been played which has been so entertaining and exciting.
“I know some of the players are thinking about retiring but having met a lot of the players recently I know they remain hungry for more success.”
With a host of league winners still in their ranks, and a handful of emerging talents, Duncan Norman is convinced the good times can keep coming for Lochs although he concedes seeing a flock of fledglings rise through the ranks and grow together in such a manner again is unlikely.
“It was unusual that so many of these boys all came through at the same time from a small area like Lochs and then stayed together so long,” he admitted.
“They played from under 14 level to around the age of 30 which is a long, long time to play football as one team.
“Roy Shirkie still has the spine of a good side there with Macmillan and Graeme Mackenzie, while Peter Mackenzie has had two very good seasons for Lochs and a fit Robert Mackenzie is a tremendous player. Jonathan Smith is a very good young player and Calum Mackinnon has shown some touches of brilliance and is very strong, reminiscent of his father, and there are other youngsters too.
“Add to that guys like ‘Nomie’ Macdonald and a keeper in Cammy Houston who is improving with every game and I’m confident Lochs still have a strong core running right through and have no need to fear, and I know they won’t, anyone at all next season.”