THE seeds were sown for the formation of the SFWA during the Scottish national team’s three-match tour in the summer of 1957, the last of which was against Spain in Madrid.
George Young, the popular captain of Scotland and Rangers, had told journalists that he planned to retire from international football after that game.
However, there was a clique on the selection committee of the SFA that was very much anti-Young.
The upshot of that was the shock announcement that Young would not be playing and therefore denied the opportunity of his farewell appearance for the national team.
The spurious excuse was that, despite having played in 34 consecutive internationals during his 52 appearances, he had no right to presume he would be selected!
Naturally, the travelling pressmen were on Young’s side. However, a mole inside the camp – or maybe back home – was feeding the SFA with details of the coverage and this led to bad blood between the hacks and the blazers.
Some journalists felt they were being picked on so it was decided that a Football Writers’ Association should be formed to protect journalists’ interests.
Jimmy Stevenson on the Daily Mirror was the catalyst and so in September 1957, a meeting of around 20 writers took place in His Lordship’s Larder, a famous football ‘howf’ on the corner of St Enoch Square and Argyle Street in Glasgow, long since demolished.
Allan Herron, then of the Evening Citizen and subsequently chief sportswriter of the Sunday Mail and Sunday People, and Martin Frizell, then of the Daily Herald (which later became The Sun) and subsequently the News of the World, are the only survivors from that meeting.
One of the early campaigns was to achieve proper post-match interview facilities because the only way to speak to managers and players after games was to wait outside the front door.
Gradually the football writers of Scotland managed to get a foot inside the door and we have come a long way since then.
Challenges remain but it’s thanks to the SFWA pioneers that relations and working conditions were improved.
The original members of the SFWA are as follows:
Aberdeen Evening Express – Jimmy Forbes.
Daily Express – Tommy Muirhead, Robert Russell, Laurie Cumming, Bob Scott, Jimmy Sanderson.
Daily Herald – Douglas Ritchie, Martin Frizell, Douglas Harvie.
Daily Mail – Andrew Wallace, Alex Young, Alex Cameron, Andrew Clunie, Jim Parkinson.
Daily Mirror – Jimmy Stevenson.
Daily Record – Willie Gallagher, Hugh Taylor, Tom Nicholson.
Edinburgh Evening Dispatch – Bill Heeps
Edinburg Evening News – John Ayres
Evening Citizen – George Aitken, Allan Herron, Malcolm Munro, Willie Caldwell.
Evening News – John Blair, Bobby Bogan, Ian Peebles.
Glasgow Herald – Cyril Horne.
Press & Journal – Norman McDonald.
Sunday Express – Harry Andrew, Jack Ronnie.
Sunday Mail – Bob Kingsley, Willie Allison.
Sunday Pictorial – Charlie Shankland.
The People – Bob McNab, Charlie Caw.