The 1980s

At the 1980 AGM, Eddie Sanderson, who had held the position of Secretary for 46 years, stood down and was succeeded by Douglas Barnett. At the end of season club function Mr Sanderson was presented with an inscribed silver salver by Chairman David Cowe in recognition of his work for the club. Mr Sanderson also relinquished his position as the club’s representative on the East of Scotland Football Association, which he had occupied for 25 years and he was replaced by former player Ian Haggarty. The decade got off to an indifferent start as Vale were eliminated from all three cup competitions at the first hurdle. A 3-1 defeat away to Edinburgh University in the Scottish Qualifying Cup was followed by the same scoreline against Whitehill Welfare in the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup. Vale at least held Kelso United to a draw in the King Cup, but lost the replay and the end of the season saw Vale finish in the bottom half of the East of Scotland League. Attendances were dropping at an alarming rate, with only raffles and the 200 Club keeping the club going as gate money decreased. On the brighter side, Innerleithen Union Club donated a shield to be played for in an annual five-a-side tournament. It was named the Andrew Brady Memorial Shield, after a Union Club committee member and Vale supporter, who had died suddenly. The first winners were Hibernian after they narrowly overcame Gala Fairydean in the final.

Season 1981-82 saw an improved performance in the league, with an eventual sixth placed finish and the club captured another trophy as they won the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup. A 3-2 victory over Edinburgh University at Victoria Park was followed by another 3-2 win over rivals Gala Fairydean. The final, played at Rosewell, saw Vale triumph 2-0 over Civil Service Strollers to lift the cup. The weather was very severe over winter and no football was possible for six weeks during December 1981 and January 1982. During this time, on Sunday 10th January, a temperature of -18 degrees was recorded in Innerleithen! Vale were starting to feel the effects of diminishing numbers of supporters and hit a financial crisis. The players rallied round and refused to accept expenses for the last six weeks of the season, thereby keeping the club alive, but Vale had to withdraw from the City Cup semi-final, away to Berwick Rangers, due to lack of money.

Having survived and augmented funds during the close season, season 1982-83 started off with a lot of hope. A good run in the Scottish Qualifying Cup saw Vale win against Annan Athletic 1-0 away, then Edinburgh University 4-0, also away. The third round saw a visit from Burntisland Shipyard and Vale won easily 6-0. In the semi-final Hawick Royal Albert were dispatched 3-1 in Innerleithen, setting up yet another final meeting with Gala Fairydean. Losing finals to Gala seemed to be becoming a bit of a habit for Vale, and once again after another two-legged final, the men in black and white triumphed 5-3 on aggregate. Having qualified for the Scottish Cup, Vale were drawn at home to Stranraer. Due to heavy snow the game had to be put back a week to the 18th of December. The game ended in a goalless draw and with two Saturdays having been used up, the replay was set for the Monday night in Stranraer. Heavy rain made conditions very difficult at Stair Park and water had to be brushed off the pitch to allow the match to go ahead, but credit had to go to both teams for putting on an excellent game. Vale had the better of the first half, but some wonderful saves by the home goalkeeper kept them at bay and two second half goals saw the game end in Stranraer’s favour.

In the Scottish Qualifying Cup of 1983-84, Vale beat Girvan Amateurs 3-0 at home in the first round. Whitehill Welfare provided the opposition in the second round and after a 1-1 draw, Vale won the replay 3-2. Hawick Royal Albert were beaten 2-1 in the third round and Spartans 3-2 in the semi-final. This set up a meeting in the by now single game final with – oh no! – Gala Fairydean, who duly won their fifth final against Vale 3-2. The Scottish Cup saw a visit to Cowdenbeath where, on a frosty pitch, the hosts were flattered by the final scoreline of 3-0. Cowden took the lead as unfortunate Vale defender Boyd turned the ball into his own net and further strikes by Gavin and Miller sealed the Fifers’ place in the next round. The teams that day were; Cowdenbeath: Allan, Williamson, O’Donnell, Oliver, Tierney, McDonough, Dunlop, Hird, Gavin, Paterson and Miller. Vale of Leithen: Arnot, Graham, Ross, Turnbull, Bird, Boyd, J Thorpe, Cormack, Hogarth, B Thorpe and Darling.

In 1984-85, Vale were put out of the Scottish Qualifying Cup beaten 3-0 by Civil Service Strollers at Muirhouse, but did much better in the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup. They took revenge on Civil Service Strollers 2-0 at home in the first round, then Hawick Royal Albert – who must have been as sick of the sight of us in cup-ties as we were of Gala – were beaten 5-3 in the second round, also at home. Postal United were sent home after a first-class 3-2 victory, leaving a final appearance against Whitehill Welfare which Vale lost 2-0. Vale finished the season in 4th place in the league, but the club was rocked when, after a decade in charge, manager Finlay Watson resigned for health reasons. He was replaced by Peebles born ex-player Danny O’Donnell.

In season 1985-86, Vale reached the Third Round of the Scottish Qualifying Cup by winning two away ties 2-0 against Burntisland Shipyard, then 9-0 against Tarff Rovers. The opposition in the Third Round was Threave Rovers and Vale were unlucky to lose 2-1 at Castle Douglas, owing to a last-minute goal. In the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup Civil Service Strollers were beaten 3-2, before a 5-1 semi-final defeat to Gala Fairydean ended Vale’s interest. Vale ended this season’s League campaign in 4th place again and won the King Cup for the sixth time – 26 years after their previous triumph. In the first two rounds, replays were needed to beat Spartans and Gala Fairydean before a single goal victory over Whitehill Welfare in the semis booked a final place. The final was at Netherdale, against Hawick Royal Albert and after extra time and the scores still tied at 2-2, it went to penalty kicks, which Vale won 5-4. David Cowe had resigned as Chairman in 1985 due to ill-health and had been appointed Honourary President. The club was greatly saddened when Mr Cowe died on 24th February 1986. Few people worked as hard to take the club forward and into the modern era, with his greatest legacy probably the Victoria Park pavilion, which he did so much to make a reality. Eddie Sanderson took over the position of Honourary President.

Season 1986-87 saw another change of manager as business commitments made it impossible for Danny O’Donnell to continue in the position, so ex-Hibs player Mervyn Jones was appointed, with John Smith assisting him in the role of coach. Ex-manager Finlay Watson had been tempted out of retirement by Coldstream and brought his new charges to Victoria Park in the Second Round of the Scottish Qualifying Cup. With the Vale team still mainly made up of players signed by Watson, it was a tense affair and Vale eventually won through with the only goal of the game. Vale then beat Civil Service Strollers 2-0 at Muirhouse in the Third Round, then Annan Athletic 2-1 at Galabank in the semi-final. Netherdale was again the venue for the final and Whitehill Welfare provided the opposition. Many people considered Vale the better team in the final, but it’s goals that count and the men from Rosewell won 1-0. In the Scottish Cup Vale had a trip to Kirkcaldy to play Raith Rovers. In a game closer than the scoreline suggested and played in front of 1,355, the hosts won through 4-0. A fine end to the season saw Vale winning the East of Scotland League Championship for the third time in their history and they made it a double as they retained the King Cup. Away wins of 3-1 against Heriot-Watt University and 3-0 against Craigroyston led to a semi-final against Easthouses Lily at Innerleithen. Having overcome them 4-3, Vale found themselves again in a final against Whitehill Welfare, who won the toss for home advantage. At Rosewell, Vale turned on one of their best displays of the season, with an emphatic 5-1 win.

During the 80s, membership in the East of Scotland League was more stable than it had been previously, but still variable. Dunbar Blue Circle had disbanded in 1982 and Berwick Rangers’ reserve side had dropped out for a few seasons, while Selkirk went into abeyance for two years. Pencaitland joined up in 1986 and the following year new arrivals Tollcross United were accompanied by Annan Athletic, who made the decision to move their first team from the South of Scotland League into the East of Scotland set-up and this left the league with a total membership of 20 teams. The prospect of a 38-game season in the league – plus the various cup competitions – ran a big risk of remaining uncompleted, so the decision was taken to split the league into Premier and First Divisions, with ten teams in each. To make up for the shortfall in games, an East of Scotland League Cup was introduced, which was played in mini-league sections before progressing to a knock-out stage. In the Scottish Qualifying Cup Vale saw off Coldstream 1-0 away, then Annan Athletic 4-1 in a replay after a 1-1 draw at Annan. The semi against Threave Rovers at Victoria Park was comprehensively won 7-0, to set up yet another final with Gala Fairydean. The final, played at Galashiels, was a bad-tempered affair and saw Vale reduced to 10 men and Gala eventually winning 3-0. Vale had to give up the King Cup after falling to Kelso United at the semi-final stage, and couldn’t retain the championship, finishing second place in the League.

After the success of the previous few seasons, 1988-89 was a real disappointment. Beaten at the first time of asking in both the Scottish Qualifying Cup and the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, while in the King Cup Vale could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Craigroyston, who won the replay on penalties. An extremely poor league campaign saw Vale win only 4 games and finish bottom of their league for the second time in their history, but this time suffering relegation for the first time ever. Another cause of sadness was the death of Finlay Watson, the Coldstream and ex-Vale manager, in May 1989. A terrific crowd turned out to pay their last respects at his funeral service at Mortonhall, with many failing to gain admission to the chapel.

At the start of season 1989-90 manager Mervyn Jones brought in another ex-Hibs player John Murphy to replace John Smith who had moved to Aberdeen. Ex-manager Danny O’Donnell had also returned to assist with coaching. In the Scottish Qualifying Cup Vale made it to the semi-finals to ensure participation in the Scottish Cup proper and were handed a home tie against East Stirlingshire. Vale opened the scoring in front of a crowd of 360, but ‘Shire pulled level just before half time and in the second half went on to complete a 3-1 victory. Vale were hopeful of gaining promotion back to the East of Scotland Premier Division at the first attempt and going into their last game of the campaign, victory over Tollcross United at Victoria Park would have secured it, but in the event it ended a 2-2 draw and Vale fell a point short of second-place Edinburgh City, who had an inferior goal difference.

Tables from the 1980s  
1980-81 East of Scotland League
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Whitehill Welfare (Champions)
32
24
5
3
81
24
+57
53
2
Civil Service Strollers
32
21
7
4
59
26
+33
49
3
Spartans
31
20
2
9
76
54
+22
42
4
Berwick Rangers Reserves
32
16
7
9
65
40
+25
39
5
Gala Fairydean
31
16
6
9
72
48
+24
38
6
Hawick Royal Albert
28
16
4
8
60
38
+32
36
7
Coldstream
32
15
4
13
57
56
+1
34
8
Eyemouth United
32
11
11
10
45
42
+3
33
9
Kelso United
32
12
7
13
53
65
-12
31
10
Vale of Leithen
32
12
6
14
80
60
+20
30
11
Edinburgh University
31
11
8
12
45
54
-9
30
12
Selkirk
31
10
5
16
47
60
-13
25
13
Dunbar Blue Circle
32
5
12
15
39
36
+3
22
14
Postal United
31
8
5
18
31
53
-22
21
15
Heriot-Watt University
31
6
7
18
36
65
-29
19
16
Craigroyston
32
7
5
20
43
83
-40
19
17
Peebles Rovers
32
4
7
21
32
96
-64
15
1981-82 East of Scotland League
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Whitehill Welfare (Champions)
34
20
9
5
68
35
+57
49
2
Gala Fairydean
34
20
7
7
106
56
+50
47
3
Hawick Royal Albert
34
19
8
7
75
47
+28
46
4
Craigroyston
34
19
8
7
66
44
+22
46
5
Postal United
34
17
9
8
59
33
+26
43
6
Vale of Leithen
34
17
8
9
64
41
+23
42
7
Berwick Rangers Reserves
34
15
11
8
71
45
+26
41
8
Spartans
34
15
10
9
78
57
+21
40
9
Coldstream
34
16
8
10
53
52
+1
40
10
Civil Service Strollers
34
14
9
11
62
47
+15
37
11
Edinburgh University
34
13
9
12
71
64
+7
35
12
Kelso United
34
13
8
13
59
69
-10
34
13
Eyemouth United
34
11
11
12
63
60
+3
33
14
Easthouses Miners Welfare
34
5
10
19
43
63
-20
20
15
Dunbar Blue Circle
34
6
6
22
45
87
-42
18
16
Heriot-Watt University
34
7
4
23
45
88
-43
18
17
Peebles Rovers
34
6
4
24
56
135
-79
16
18 Selkirk
34
3
2
29
39
103
-64
8
1982-83 East of Scotland League
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Whitehill Welfare (Champions)
32
22
7
3
98
31
+57
51
2
Gala Fairydean
32
22
5
5
117
42
+75
49
3
Spartans
31
23
3
5
92
41
+51
49
4
Postal United
32
16
10
6
62
39
+23
42
5
Craigroyston
32
16
6
10
78
50
+28
38
6
Easthouses Miners Welfare
32
15
8
9
67
51
+16
38
7
Hawick Royal Albert
31
14
9
8
75
44
+31
37
8
Coldstream
32
14
9
9
59
49
+10
37
9
Berwick Rangers Reserves
32
15
3
14
53
39
+14
33
10
Vale of Leithen
32
11
11
10
72
65
+7
33
11
Selkirk
32
11
8
13
50
58
-8
30
12
Kelso United
32
9
8
15
62
77
-15
26
13
Eyemouth United
32
9
3
20
54
76
-22
21
14
Civil Service Strollers
32
8
5
19
55
84
-29
21
15
Heriot-Watt University
32
6
7
19
44
76
-32
19
16
Edinburgh University
32
7
2
23
41
85
-44
16
17
Peebles Rovers
32
0
2
30
20
197
-177
2
1983-84 East of Scotland League
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Spartans (Champions)
30
22
4
4
103
37
+57
48
2
Gala Fairydean
30
21
6
3
89
30
+59
48
3
Selkirk
30
19
5
6
84
43
-41
43
4
Hawick Royal Albert
30
19
4
7
81
48
+33
42
5
Craigroyston
30
16
7
7
62
32
+30
39
6
Postal United
30
16
6
8
76
38
-38
38
7
Vale of Leithen
30
15
8
7
72
41
+31
38
8
Civil Service Strollers
30
16
3
11
63
43
+20
35
9
Whitehill Welfare
30
13
7
10
57
41
+16
33
10
Kelso United
30
11
4
15
51
49
+2
26
11
Eyemouth United
30
9
6
15
51
59
-8
24
12
Easthouses Miners Welfare
30
8
9
14
45
59
-14
23
13
Heriot-Watt University
30
6
4
20
46
99
-53
16
14
Edinburgh University
30
6
2
22
27
78
-51
14
15
Peebles Rovers
30
2
4
24
26
133
-107
8
16
Coldstream
30
2
1
27
18
121
-103
5
1984-85 East of Scotland League
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Whitehill Welfare (Champions)
28
21
7
0
75
17
+57
49
2
Spartans
28
21
4
3
70
24
+46
46
3
Gala Fairydean
28
21
1
6
84
37
+47
43
4
Vale of Leithen
28
18
6
4
67
27
+40
42
5
Postal United
28
16
5
7
64
25
+39
37
6
Hawick Royal Albert
27
15
4
8
74
48
+26
34
7
Civil Service Strollers
28
12
5
11
48
41
+7
29
8
Craigroyston
28
11
4
13
56
56
=
26
9
Kelso United
28
7
8
13
44
52
-8
22
10
Easthouses Miners Welfare
28
9
3
16
41
54
-13
21
11
Peebles Rovers
28
7
4
17
40
73
-33
18
12
Coldstream
28
6
6
16
27
62
-35
18
13
Edinburgh University
28
4
7
17
35
75
-40
15
14
Heriot-Watt University
27
2
5
20
19
74
-55
9
15
Eyemouth United
28
3
3
22
30
104
-74
9
1985-86 East of Scotland League
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Whitehill Welfare (Champions)
28
21
5
2
85
23
+57
47
2
Gala Fairydean
28
20
5
3
59
28
+31
45
3
Postal United
28
17
6
5
56
30
+26
40
4
Vale of Leithen
28
18
3
7
97
44
+53
39
5
Kelso United
28
15
9
4
55
30
+25
39
6
Peebles Rovers
28
11
8
9
43
36
+7
30
7
Spartans
28
10
8
10
54
53
+1
28
8
Hawick Royal Albert
28
10
5
13
54
53
+1
25
9
Eyemouth United
28
7
9
12
56
71
-15
23
10
Easthouses Miners Welfare
28
8
6
14
34
43
-9
22
11
Craigroyston
28
9
4
15
47
58
-11
22
12
Civil Service Strollers
28
6
8
14
39
60
-21
20
13
Coldstream
28
6
6
16
41
59
-18
18
14
Heriot-Watt University
28
5
1
22
32
95

-63

11
15
Edinburgh University
28
4
3
21
39
87
-48
11
1986-87 East of Scotland League
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Vale of Leithen (Champions)
34
24
7
3
114
38
+57
55
2
Kelso United
34
23
5
6
84
38
+46
51
3
Gala Fairydean
34
23
4
7
104
38
+66
50
4
Whitehill Welfare
34
21
8
5
70
28
+42
50
5
Spartans
34
21
6
7
75
31
+44
48
6
Edinburgh City
34
19
7
8
85
35
+50
45
7
Civil Service Strollers
34
18
7
9
77
38
+39
43
8
Hawick Royal Albert
34
16
4
14
57
54
+3
36
9
Pencaitland
34
13
7
14
55
49
+6
33
10
Craigroyston
34
16
1
17
62
61
+1
33
11
Berwick Rangers Reserves
34
13
7
14
45
47
-2
33
12
Selkirk
34
8
11
15
57
85
-28
27
13
Eyemouth United
34
10
6
18
57
68
-11
26
14
Peebles Rovers
34
10
6
18
51
78
-27
26
15
Easthouses Miners Welfare
34
8
7
19
41
67
-26
23
16 Heriot-Watt University
34
6
5
23
33
101
-68
17
17 Edinburgh University
34
6
3
25
39
95
-56
15
18 Coldstream
34
0
1
33
17
172
-155
1
1987-88 East of Scotland League Premier Division
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Whitehill Welfare (Champions)
18
9
7
2
41
17
+57
25
2
Vale of Leithen
18
8
6
4
43
32
+11
22
3
Gala Fairydean
18
8
6
4
26
15
+11
22
4
Civil Service Strollers
18
10
2
6
27
21
+6
22
5
Kelso United
18
6
8
4
32
25
+7
20
6
Edinburgh City
18
6
6
6
25
32
-7
18
7
Craigroyston
18
6
4
8
25
31
-6
16
8
Spartans
18
5
5
8
23
22
+1
15
9
Hawick Royal Albert (Relegated)
18
4
4
10
17
43
-26
12
10
Pencaitland (Relegated)
18
3
2
13
18
39
-21
8
1988-89 East of Scotland League Premier Division
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Gala Fairydean (Champions)
18
10
5
3
39
23
+57
25
2
Civil Service Strollers
18
7
8
3
35
26
+9
22
3
Whitehill Welfare
18
7
7
4
34
31
+3
21
4
Eyemouth United
18
9
2
7
35
43
-8
20
5
Spartans
18
7
5
6
32
27
+5
19
6
Craigroyston
18
7
4
7
29
32
-3
18
7
Kelso United
18
5
6
7
20
22
-2
16
8
Annan Athletic
18
5
4
9
29
35
-6
14
9
Edinburgh City (Relegated)
18
3
7
8
25
36
-11
13
10
Vale of Leithen (Relegated)
18
4
4
10
21
24
-3
12
1989-90 East of Scotland League First Division
Pos
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1
Coldstream (Champions)
18
12
3
3
36
18
+57
27
2
Edinburgh City (Promoted)
18
11
4
3
43
17
+26
26
3
Vale of Leithen
18
11
3
4
54
27
+27
25
4
Easthouses Lily
18
10
5
3
43
27
+16
25
5
Selkirk
18
8
4
6
35
31
+4
20
6
Tollcross United
18
7
4
7
33
29
+4
18
7
Hawick Royal Albert
18
5
5
8
28
38
-10
15
8
Pencaitland
18
5
3
10
26
32
-6
13
9
Edinburgh University
18
4
3
11
27
48
-21
11
10
Heriot-Watt University
18
0
0
18
6
64
-58
0