George Allan Memorial Football Festival 2018 in Linlithgow
George Allan would surely have been proud to see the silky skills on display at Prestonfield on Sunday, May 20.
But it wasn’t the Rosey Posey’s first team who were in action – it was, in fact, 120 or so young football stars in the making.
Twelve teams from local primary schools met at the Rose’s ground to compete in the annual seven-a-side George Allan Memorial Football Festival.
Budding young footballers from schools in the Linlithgow area were joined by pupils from Grange PS in Bo’ness for the event’s 28th staging.
The festival has two league sections, named after the first Scottish Cup-winning captains of Linlithgow Rose.
In the developmental Reston League, at the Social Club end, Dynamo Springfield won the George Allan Shield – beating the Linlithgow Leopards one-nil in the final.
And in the more advanced Gallagher League at the Academy end, Brig United and Borussia Springfield emerged at the top of a closely contested section to meet each other in the final.
Hopes of a Springfield double were not to be, however, and the well-drilled team from the Brig school won by two goals to nil to take the George Allan Trophy home for the second consecutive year.
Prizes were presented by Georgina Waugh, George Allan’s great-niece.
Special award winners in the Reston League were Reuben Kennedy from Linlithgow Leopards and Euan Johnstone from Springfield Dynamo and, in the Gallagher League, Kerr Robertson from Brig United and Liam Cairns from St Joseph’s Reds.
And the Georgina Waugh Trophy for Fair Play was awarded to Linlithgow Tigers.
Festival organiser Murdoch Kennedy said: “I’d like to thank the hosts, Linlithgow Rose FC supporters, Linlithgow Rose Community FC and our sponsors The Walk For Jock who helped make this year’s event another great success.
“I’d also like to thank the 200 or so mums, dads, grans and grandads who came along to support the teams.
“We can only hope that one of the youngsters in the tournament will one day walk in George’s footsteps as a Scottish internationalist.
“It’s not happened yet but that’s our ultimate goal!”
First established in 1991, the festival honours the memory of Linlithgow Bridge footballer, George “Dod” Allan, a star centre forward on both sides of the border who, in 1897, became Liverpool FC’s first Scottish internationalist.
Explaining the festival’s roots, Murdoch said: “In 1988, while researching the history of Linlithgow Rose FC in the Journal and Gazette archives, I came across an 1897 report about George Allan who had played in the England v Scotland international at Crystal Palace in London.
“I did some research to find out more about him as he appeared to have been forgotten about locally.
“This culminated in an article in the Lithca Lore Four publication in 1989.
“Two years later, after a discussion with Linlithgow Bridge Community Council on ways to honour this forgotten son of the Brig, then chairman Simon Mason suggested we should have an annual football tournament, involving local primaries.
“The first festival was staged in 1991 and it has gone from strength to strength ever since.”
On the cusp of a glittering career, George Allan sadly died of tuberculosis in 1899, aged just 24.
However, almost 129 years after his tragic death, he has been making headlines again – thanks to Liverpool player Mohammed Salah’s incredible 2017-18 season.
Murdoch added: “Salah has broken goal scoring records all season and picked up several major awards.
“However, when he scored in the 5-0 rout of Porto in the Champions League on February 14, on his 26th appearance, it was reported by Sky Sports News and other media outlets that he was only the second-fastest Liverpool player to reach 20 goals in a season.
“That particular record is still held by George Allan, who reached the milestone in 19 appearances in 1895.
“Stephen Done, the historian and museum curator of Liverpool Football Club, has told me that George Allan has never been forgotten by the club.
“His name regularly crops up in the club’s publications.
“It’s really nice to be able to honour him here, in his home town, too.”