NEXT year marks the 120th anniversary of Tottenham Hotspur winning the FA Cup – helped by two star players from the lost village of Glenbuck.

And locals committed to preserving the history of Glenbuck are making plans to mark the occasion.

The Glenbuck Heritage Group have fought since 2018 to bring the extensive history of the village to the fore, much of which centres on its reputation for producing footballing elite including the much-loved Liverpool manager Bill Shankly and his five brothers who left the Glenbuck Cherrypickers for clubs like Ayr United, Sheffield United and Portsmouth.

But the Shankly brothers were not the only sports stars to emerge from the depths of the coal mines to make a name for themselves in Glenbuck.

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The FA Cup win in 1901 was propelled by two of the village’s players who became figures of local pride in their own right – Sandy Tait and Sandy Brown.

As April 2021 marks 120 years since they helped Tottenham clinch the Cup win, local history buffs and football enthusiasts are now brainstorming ways to pay homage to the two Sandys in the hope of furthering the village’s notoriety and aiding its rebirth.

Sam Purdie, 83, Barbara Alexander Blythe and Tam Hazel, 93, are members of The Glenbuck Heritage Group and are looking to enlist the support of Spurs fans across Ayrshire, Glasgow and England to get the anniversary the recognition it deserves.

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Amazingly, the story goes that following the momentous victory, Tait and Brown boldly brought the Gold Cup back to Glenbuck where it was placed on show in the local Co-operative store, the manager of which was Tam Hazel’s father.

Shortly thereafter, after being taken back down south, the cup disappeared permanently.

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It seems the trophy was safer in rural Glenbuck than exposed to the fanfare in busy London.

Sam, who hails from Glenbuck, explained: “It was a bit of a cowboy story. The Cup sat in the Glenbuck Co-operative and nobody thought about stealing it.

Cumnock Chronicle: Sandy TaitSandy Tait

“Glenbuck is called the nursery of football. Even though it’s a tiny village, fifty four men out of that village became professional footballers, two of them international. The two Sandys who were in the cup-winning team were ex-miners, too. It was either the pit or football.

“I was born and bred in Glenbuck and even when I was a boy, you were assessed by everyone on your footballing ability. Everyone was honing their abilities and the standard of football was so high. These fellas had the right attitude to win because they knew that if you weren’t good, it was back to the Grasshill pit.”

Cumnock Chronicle: Sandy BrownSandy Brown

Michele Palilla and Ben Browning run the Facebook page ‘This is Glenbuck’ which aims to preserve and promote the village’s football heritage.

Working with Adam Powley and Robert Gillian, authors of ‘Shankly’s Village: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Glenbuck and its Famous Sons’, the pair have proposed a signpost or plaque to commemorate Alex “The Glenbuck goalgetter” Brown and Alex “Terrible” Tait, while Adam and Robert are in talks with Spurs to get their backing.

Adam said: “It’s very early days with Spurs but I’ve been in touch and they’ve got a few things in mind to mark the anniversary. The contribution that the two Glenbuck players, Tait and Brown, made was absolutely fundamental.

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“It was fascinating to research their background in Glenbuck as what was clear was that the ethos, spirit and character of Glenbuck as it was represented by its villagers and people playing football for the Glenbuck Cherrypickers was in direct correlation to how Spurs played in the FA Cup and how they succeeded in that era.”

In terms of the cup’s temporary residence in Glenbuck, Adam said there is only anecdotal evidence to confirm it.

Adam said: “Everyone has taken it as read that it did go up to Glenbuck. We’ve researched fairly extensively and can’t find any actual verifiable evidence that the cup did make the journey there, but I suspect that it was done on a nod and a wink.

“They might’ve let players borrow it to show it off in Glenbuck with the proviso that they brought it home safe and sound, but there’s no evidence that corroborates that. It’s more of a legend than fact at the moment.”

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Barbara, niece of Bill Shankly and architect of Glenbuck memorials, is delighted that the history of Glenbuck is starting to take shape in the minds of those not so familiar with its colourful past.

She said: “It’s only because of Sam, Tam and I that Glenbuck is not a lost village. Places like Benwhat in Dalmellington don’t have anybody alive to push it but we have.

“Can you imagine the FA Cup in the local Co-op window now? It’s huge.

“I always dreamt that Glenbuck would be found again, but I never thought it would be in my lifetime. But my dreams have come true. I’m so happy with what we’ve gotten done but there are still many further developments to make.”