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Football at Kinnoir (and Rothiemay)

Football was part of life at Kinnoir. Football was played at the school, in the playground or on the school pitch – affectionately nick named “Humpy Park, Kinnoir!!!”

It was also played at various different pitches which were really just space kindly provided by local farmers and mowed as closely as possible to give a reasonably smooth surface.

The lines were carefully paced out and marked with sawdust – of which there was always plenty from the sawmilling that went on locally!

At times, the pitch was provided by Bertie Leith at Upper Costlyburn on a field near Annatswells. This was a good location but unfortunately it was through this park that old Johnny Gordon wheeled his bike on the way home to his cottage. So, on more than one occasion, play had to be halted while Old Johnny pushed his bike across the field of play!  

If the field at Upper Costlyburn was under crops the ever enthusiastic Bert Bruce from Broomfold Farm would step in and provide a pitch on one of his fields. Various locations were tried out but the best was without doubt on the flat land across from the Smiddy at Cobairdy.

Here matches would be played out against local teams from Rothiemay, Forgue, Drumblade and Aberchirder. Of course, there were no changing or showering facilities but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the players or the spectators.

For the spectators – especially the younger ones- the highlight of the match was the arrival of “Icy Joe’s” Ice Cream Van from Huntly which was a converted “shooting brake” of some description. Icy Joe knew that the kids would have couple of pennies set aside for a slider!

We could never figure out how he knew a match would be on but he was always there!

Around 1960, the rough ground next to the school was extended and levelled out to make a more formal football pitch (with real goal posts!) and various matches were played there including five a side and seven a side tournaments!

However, the most successful team in the area was the team at Rothiemay and many of the Kinnoir players were lured away to play for Rothiemay at the excellent Lossat Park.

Bill Baird, Gordon Angus, Robbie Innes, Sandy Baird, Ronnie McLaren and Abby Alexander from Kinnoir all played for Rothiemay as well as Kinnoir’s adopted son – Jim Morrison who played left half for the team in the late 1950s and 1960s.  (Abby Alexander is in the pic below)

Photo courtesy of Keith Bowie

Back Row; Mac Bowie, Eddie Kinnaird, Players: Albert Alexander, George Leslie, Bill Ogg Ian Greave, George Smith, Geordie Webster, Donald Bemner       (Lady looking on: Meg Hoy)

Front Row: Roy Neish, Jim Scott, Peter Johnston, Loois George, Bill Hay, Ned Clarke.

Both Robbie Innes and Jim Morrison played in one of Rothiemay’s most successful season in 1967 when they won the Usher Cup beating MacDuff 5-2. The final was played on neutral ground at the Haughs at Turriff.

[Editor’s note: If anyone has a photo of this team, please get in touch with . We would love to have picture of that team in this story]

It was indeed a famous victory as MacDuff was one of the best teams in the Welfare League at that time boasting among their players Derek McKay who went on to play for Aberdeen, winning the Scottish Cup against Celtic in the 1969-70 season. That win earned him the nickname “Cup Tie Mckay” - a title which he encouraged right up to his death in Australia in 2008.

The Rothiemay club was a well organised and formalised club and they even boasted a Dinner Dance at the end of each season. This was a much anticipated affair and was traditionally held immediately after the final game of the season.

Unfortunately, one year right at the end of the final game Bill Baird (who was team captain at the time) took a knock in the face which broke his upper set of false teeth. So, with no time to effect repairs, he had to attend the dinner dance with no upper set!!!

Bill and Nora Baird at the Rothiemay Dance

Photo courtesy of Jim Baird

The other attribute that the Rothiemay club possessed that few of the other teams in the area had was a proper changing room and pavilion. The Lossat Park pitch was a properly levelled and constructed pitch and the Lossat Park pavilion was a solid community building. Not only was it used as a changing facility for the football teams but all sorts of community activities took place there. At various times there was a Youth Club, a Rifle Club, Boy Scouts and Girl guides met there, whist drives were held fact, it was real community asset for the folks of Rothiemay, Kinnoir and Grange!

The land and the original farmhouse that became the Pavilion had been acquired from the Rothiemay Estate in 1949 utilising a grant from the King George's Fields Foundation and £1000 raised by the community. Having acquired the land, the same community turned out in large numbers to help with the refurbishment of the building and the construction of the football pitch.

One of the main driving forces behind the acquisition was Wyness Riddoch. Wyness  was a director of the timber firm Riddochs of Rothiemay who were a major employer in the Kinnoir, Rothiemay and Huntly communities. Wyness was a quiet unassuming man but he played a huge role in the local community and was always willing to give up his personal time and money to support worthy causes. Read more about Wyness Riddoch by clicking here

Lossat Park and Pavilion, Rothiemay      Photo courtesy of Jim Morrison

Read more about the history of the Lossat Park here (

Rothiemay’s Cup Winning Team of 1953

Photo courtesy of Eric Watson

Rothiemay’s Cup Winning Team of 1960

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Helen, Hamish and Jean McPherson enjoying a cone.

Photo credit Margaret McPherson