Links Park Legends - Dave McNicol
Manager Alex Stuart may have felt that he was taking a chance when he brought in defender Dave McNicol from Dunfermline Athletic. Dave had a dodgy knee which had threatened to end his career and he admits himself he was largely playing on 'one' leg.
But those old enough to remember the glory days of the seventies will know that in fact Dave became one of the stars of the period.
The team of that era was, as Dave points out, a shrewd mixture of older players, experienced pros mixed with young talent. Manager Stuart encouraged his players to play football and he signed players who wanted to play.
Dave's first game for Montrose was a bit of a shock as he found his new manager's methods intrusive to say the least. As an experienced player he felt that he should play his own game and he found himself being continually instructed from the touchline. "I made my views clear to the manager after the game," laughs Dave. "It obviously didn't do me any harm because Alex asked me to become team captain."
Although the team had a lot of success and those who recall that era think of the defence as being an important part of the side Dave remembers the exact opposite. Dave describes himself as an out and out defender. Asked if he scored for the Gable Endies he doesn't think that he did until he does remember scoring against the auld enemy Arbroath, when he fluked a goal from an intended cross. "Defensively Montrose were suspect. Overlapping full backs were fashionable at the time. The only thing was you were supposed to overlap on only on side of the pitch at a time. Montrose overlapped down both flanks. Mind you, we got out of jail on most occasions because we could score more goals than the opposition."
Asked to recall his most memorable game or games Dave, like the rest of the seventies legends, recalls the marathon cup-tie against Hearts, beating Hibs thanks to Les Barr's 60 yard effort and the League Cup semi against Rangers.
Before the first match against Hearts Dave says he negotiated a bonus for a draw as well as a win. It was a good move for both players and the Club with the tie going to two replays.
Dave may not have scored many goals but in the final minute of normal time in third game of that third Hearts tie Dave hit the post with a shot that would have won any goal of the month award. (My description, not Dave's.)
To this day, Dave still can't believe that it didn't go in. "It hit the inside of the post but came out - almost impossible." Had Montrose won they would have faced Dumbarton, who they had already trounced six-nil earlier that same season, in the semi final. A cup final and a place in Europe could just have been there for the taking.
© Forbes Inglis 2004