DANNY McCULLOCH (1935-2020)
New Cumnock born and bred Danny McCulloch was the greatest goalscorer ever to play for Glenafton Athletic , scoring over 300 goals for the club. Known as the Junior ‘Puskas’ he was a member of arguably the greatest ever Glens team – winners of three Western League Championships in a row in the early 1960’s.
These pages are dedicated to Danny and his contribution to that Golden Age and he would be first to acknowledge the contribution of those he played with and those that followed the Glen! Many thanks to his greatest fan, his sister Mary, for providing the inspiration for this tribute.
BANK SCHOOL TEAM | 1948
Daniel Robertson McCulloch was born in 1935 at South Western Road, Craigbank in the parish of New Cumnock. He went to the local Bank School and it was while there that the 13 year-old won his first football medal after the school team were crowned No. 5 Area League Champions.
Back Row: Mr. Knox, Drew Hunter, Sanny Smith, Bert Jackson, Daniel McCulloch, Mr. Milgrew.
Front Row: Jim Hart, Wull Mackie, Fred Armstrong, John McDonald, Chic Walker, Jim “Tu” Wells, Jim Orr.
After leaving school Danny played for Glenpark Youths.
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC |1954/55-1956/57
Danny soon caught the eye of Glenafton Athletic then based at Connel Park in the heart of the miners’ rows and the 18 year old signed for the club in June 1953.
Further research in progress.
A Debut to forget ! | September 1954
Danny made his debut that season in the Scottish Junior Cup 1st Round tie away to Largs Thistle. The Glens got off to a good start when right-half Tarbert put them ahead early in the match. The home side equalised and then went 2-1 in front but to make matters worse the Glens goalie Ballantyne was badly injured in the process and by half-time it 4-1 for Largs. In the days before substitutions Ballantyne was moved to the outside right position and after a re-shuffle goalscorer Tarbert went in goals – Thistle went on to score seven more goals and win 11-1.
Largs: Butchart; Anderson & Cameron; Kerr, McLean & Grant; Burchill, Hearns, Cook, McKay & McFadzean. Glenafton: Ballantyne; Jackson & Murray; Tarbert, Rodgerson & Hume; Cathcart, McCulloch, Beggs, Bury & McWilliams
First Goal| November 19th, 1954
Danny scored his first Glens goal on November 19th, 1954 in a 5-1 league victory away at Whitletts Victoria. Scott put the home side ahead only for Campell to equalise. McWilliams gave the Glens lead and Brewster added a third. Danny, now at inside left, made it 4-1 before McWilliams completed the scoring.
Glens Team: McGill; Newman & Murray; Tarbert, Hume & Campbell; Cathcart, Brewster, Bury, McCulloch & McWilliams
First Medal |
An early exit from the Ayrshire Cup had its consolation by way of entry into the Ayrshire Consolation Cup. The Glens reached the final where they defeated Muirkirk Juniors.
The Glens also reached the final of the Vernon Trophy where they lost out 2-1 to South Section League winners Auchinleck Talbot at Townhead Park, Cumnock on Saturday 18th June 1955, where £62 was taken at the gate. In a game notable for both sides having goalkeepers called Ballantyne, inside-left Bury scored the Glens goal – a position that Danny would later make his own.
Glens Team: Ballantyne, Rogers,Murray; Hamilton, Hume, Campbell,Carter, McNamara, Brewster, Bury and McCulloch.
Futher research in progress.
Record Crowd at Connel Park |Saturday 27th January 1957
Danny scored the opening goal in the 2-0 in over Rutherglen Glencairn in the 4th Round of the Scottish Junior Cup to set up a 5th Round tie at home against Kilsyth Rangers. The game finished 2-2, with Roy Thorburn hitting a double for the home side, in front of a record crowd of 8,000 at Connel Park. Unfortunately the Glens lost the replay 3-1 and Kilsyth went on to lose to Banks O’ Dee in the final at Hampden.
Glens team: Back: Bert Murray, John McNaught, Richard Carruthers, Bert Jackson, John Stirling, James Templeton Front: John Cathcart, James Donnelly, Robert Thorburn, Daniel McCulloch, Thomas Graham.
Vernon Trophy Runners Up
The Glens reached the final of the Vernon Trophy but lost out 3-2 to Ardeer Thistle in the final at Portland Park, Troon.
Danny finished the season as top goalscorer, with 27 goals ahead of John Cathcart (24) and Roy Thorburn (15). He bagged 4 goals in the 5-3 win over Lesmahagow in the 3rd Round Scottish Judnior Cup 2nd replay at Larkhall and also hit hat-tricks in home league wins over Hurlfdord United (8-4) and Ayr Newton Rovers (8-0).
If the Cap fits
Danny’s performances for the Glens earned him two Scottish International caps – the first against Wales at Tynecastle in which he scored in the 3-1 victory. His second cap came against Ireland at Tolka Park, Dublin where the Scottish side were triumphant again and by the same scoreline. Danny was the only representative from the Western League.
The day after the match the Scotland team were guests at the F.A.I. Challenge Cup semi-final between Limerick and Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park, Dublin -t he Rovers went on to lose 2-0 to Drumcondra in the final.
FALKIRK & STRANRAER |1957/58
Stepping up to the Seniors
Former England internationalist Reg Smith resigned as manager of Dundee United in January 1957 to take over the hot seat at Brockville, when Falkirk were languishing at the foot of the First Division (then the top flight.) Smith not only saved the Bairns from relegation but went on to lead them to victory over Kilmarnock in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park.
Danny was Smith’s first signing for Falkirk but unfortunately his time with the Bairns was an unhappy one and he finished the season on loan to Stranraer. He was a big success at Stair Park scoring 5 goals in 10 appearances and despite Stranraer wanting to sign him for the following season, Danny returned to New Cumnock to play for his first love Glenafton Athletic.
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC | 1958/59 – 1964/65
Danny’s return to Glenafton, as club captain in Season 1958-59, proved to be a springboard for the club which saw them close the 1950’s as Western League Champions and go on to dominate that League in the early 60’s, a truly golden period in the history of Glenafton Athletic.
Western League Champions
Glenafton enjoyed great success in Season 1958-59, winning the South Section League and then thrashing Irvine Meadow, the North Section winners by 3-0 in the Western League Championship decider at Recreation Park, Stevenston.
The Meadow were defeated 3-1 at the same park in the Western League Cup final, with Danny bagging one of the goals. He also scored in the 2-1 victory over Ardeer Thistle in the final of the the Vernon Trophy at Meadow Park.
The Glens reached two other finals but lost out 3-1 to Largs Thistle in the Ayrshire Cup final at Stevenston and 2-1 to Kilwinning Rangers in the Irvine & District Cup Final at Meadow Park. It is worth noting that the League Decider and all four cup finals the Glens competed in were played at North Ayrshire venues against North Ayrshire sides. During this period the Glens played 6 games in 10 days!
Danny finished the season as 3rd top goalscorer with 23 goals, behind Roy Douglas (31) and Billy Moffat (55) – the latter two scoring the all important goals in the Championship decider
Glenafton Athletic 1958-59:
Back Row: Western League Flag, Billy Scott, Charlie Healy, Tom Graham, Lachlan Rogerson Middle Row: Haddow Nisbet, Billy Clapperton, Sammy Boyd, John McNaught, Sandy Selkirk, Robert Pateron, John McKenzie, Bert Murray, Jim Sloan, Wullie Edwards. Front Row: Billy McLeish, Billy Moffat (Westen League Cup), Roy Douglas, Danny McCulloch (Vernon Trophy) John Wallace.
This was to be the last season at Connel Park, where the pitch based in the heart of the miners rows had served Glenafton Athletic since it was formed in 1930 and other teams such as New Cumnock United and Lanemark long before that time. Danny hit 4 goals in the opening home league victory over Nithsdale Wanderers (8-0) and scored the first goal in the last home game of the season against Annbank (2-0), with John McNaught having the honour of scoring the last goal at Connel Park.
8 or 9 goals in one game
Danny equalled the club scoring record when he hit eight (although some say it was 9) in a 10-1 league victory over Maybole at Connel Park, only a few weeks after he had scored a hat-trick against the same side on their own turf. A Danny hat-trick in a 6-0 win over Kello Rovers in the 3rd Round of the West of Scotland Cup helped the club progress to the semi-final of the competition where they lost out 2-0 to Cambuslang Rangers at Stevenston.
The season ended on a high when a Danny double at Cumnock saw off Ardeer Thistle (2-1) in the final of the Irvine District Cup . Needless to say Danny finished at top goalscorer with 54 goals ahead of Billy Moffat (30) and Eddie Brennan (18).
A new home and new colours at Loch Park| Saturday 13th August, 1960
Glenafton moved from the old football park at Connel Park which had served them since 1930, Their new home was the purpose built Loch Park at the heart of the village of New Cumnock, close to where the Afton Water meets with the River Nith. The team also changed colours from black and white to red and white.
Back row: Davie Black, Jimmy McKnight, John Milligan, Billy Moffat, John McKenzie,Sandy Selkirk, John McNaught, John Japp, Jim Sloan, Wullie Edwards
Front row: Haddow Nesbit, Elijah Porte, Eddie Brennan, Roy Douglas, Danny McCulloch, John Wallace.
South Section Winners
The Glens won the South Section League title in a canter but Irvine Meadow proved too strong in the Western League Championship Decider winning 5-1.
A promising run in the Scottish Junior Cup , beginning with a first round 6-1 tanking of the Talbot, in which Danny hit 4 goals, ended in a 2-1 defeat to Dunbar United in a 6th Round replay at Shotts. It was the first time the club had reached this round since 1936-37, when they lost out to eventual winners Arthurlie at Barrhead. Dunbar too would go on to lift the Scottish Junior Cup.
As well as the 4 goals against Talbot in the Junior Cup, Danny hit four in a 5-2 victory at Royal Albert in the West of Scotland Cup, six in a 12-1 league win away at Kello Rovers and hat-trick in a 7-0 defeat of Craigmark at Loch Park. He finished top goalcorer with 46 goals (100 in two seasons) ahead of Billy Moffat (23) and Eddie Brennan (18).
Scottish Junior Cup Quarter Final |Saturday 24th March 1962
Danny scored the winning goal at Newlandsfield in the Glens 2-1 victory over Pollok in the 6th Round of the Scottish Junior Cup. The home-side had taken the lead only for Eddie Brennan to equalise before Danny slotted home the decisive goal to send the 3,000 Glens supporters in the 8,000 crowd down the road happy. Danny’s goal was described as the most important in the club’s history as it ensured their place in the Scottish Junior Cup semi-final for the first time.
The week before the Pollok game Danny had married Jean Nisbet, daughter of Glens trainer Haddow Nisbet.
Right: Haddow treats Danny on the pitch during the Connel Park days.
Scottish Junior Cup Semi-Final | Friday 30th March 1962
The Glens faced Kirkintilloch Rob Roy at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock in the Scottish Junior Cup Semi-Final. The team lined up for the pre-match photo at Rugby Park (old scoreboard in the background) Despite their best efforts the Glens could not get the better of the Rabs goalkeeper and lost out 1-0. Rob Roy went on to lift the cup beating Renfrew 1-0 in the Hampden final replay after a 1-1 draw.
Back row : Robert Reynolds, Willie McLean, Roger Niven, Billy Moffat, John McKenzie. Front row: Jackie Conway, Eddie Brennan, Robert Paterson, Danny McCulloch, John Wallace
Western League Champions |One-in-a-row
The Glens put the disappointment of Scottish Cup Semi-Final defeat behind them and went on to win the South Section league title in emphatic fashion. Danny scored both goals as the Glens beat Irvine Meadow in the Western League Championship decider at Townhead Park Cumnock, where some weeks earlier Sammy Boyle had scored the only goal of the game to beat Ardeer Thistle in the final of the Ayrshire Cup. In the last game of a gruelling season the Glens lost out 2-0 to Saltcoats Vics in the Vernon Trophy Final replay at Recreation Park, Stevenston.
Danny scored the Glens first goal of the season in the 2-1 opening day league victory at Cumnock and hit a double in the following game against Muirkirk (7-1) and then and a hat-trick in the game after that in a 6-0 defeat of Whitletts. Although Glens won their next game at Nithsdale Wanderes 10-1, it was Billy Moffat that hit the 4 goals – Danny having to settle for only! He did hit 4 agianst the hapless Maybole (8-0) and agsint Craigmark (11-1). Once again he finished top goalscorer with 53 goals (out of the 203 goals the Glens scored that season) ahead of Billy Moffat (38) , Jackie Conway (16) and J. Ritchie (16).
Scottish Junior Cup Semi-Final
Glenafton reached the Scottish Junior Cup Semi-Final again after knocking out Kirrie Thistle (H 6-1), Forth Wanderers (A 4-0), Irvine Vics (A 6-1), Linlithgow Rose (A 1-1, H 2-0), Pollok (A 1-0) and local rivals Cumnock Juniors 5-0 in Quarter-Final at Loch Park.
The Glens faced Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic in the Semi-Final at Firhill Park, Glasgow not once but on three occasions over a nine-day period. The first game on April 27th ended in a 1-1 draw with Nodder Kirkpatrick scoring for the Glens.
Back row : Robert Reynolds, Willie McLean, Roger Niven, Billy Moffat, John McKenzie. Front row: Jackie Conway, Eddie Brennan, Robert Paterson, Danny McCulloch, John Wallace.
In the first replay , Danny scored in the 30th minute to cancel out Rose’s opener. Billy Paton put the Glens ahead in extra-time but a last minute own goal by Willie McLean forced a second replay.
On Monday 6th May, Danny opened the scoring with a header in the first minute but Paterson equalised before the break. On the hour mark Danny set up Charlie Gemmel (a replacement for the injured Nodder) to put the Glens ahead again, only for Paterson to equalise ten minutes later. With four minutes of extra-time remaining Danny slid in to score the winner and put the Glens into the final for the first time.
Top: Danny (far left) hits the equaliser in the first replay as Nodder (third from right) looks on. Bottom left : Danny slides home the winner in the second replay. Bottom right: The post mortem begins in the Rose ranks, including the legendary Pat Stanton.
Scottish Junior Cup Final |Saturday 18th May, 1963
In an all Ayrshire final at Hampden Park, Glasgow on 18th May 1963, it was the experienced Irvine Meadow, competing in their fourth Junior Cup final that held their nerve to win the ‘Holy Grail’ for the second time in the club’s history.
The Glens of course were no strangers to the Meadow and as reigning Western League Champions had often got the better of their North Ayrshire rivals in recent seasons . Centre-forward Nodder Kirkpatrick hadn’t recovered from his semi-final injury and Bobby Black took his place in front of Charlie Gemmel.
However, it was captain Billy Moffat that blasted the Glens ahead after only seven minutes and from then on the Glens created a host of chances but failed to add to their tally and were punished when Paterson equalised for the Meadow before the break. Moffat missed a penalty midway through the second half and with two minutes to go McIntyre sealed it for the Meadow.
Images of Danny’s face and that of Meadow goalkeeper Ian Prentice adorned the Cup Final programme, along with that of the Scottish Junior Cup. Sadly, on this occasion the goalie came out on top.
Western League Champions | Two-in-a-row
The healing of the Hampden heart-ache began with the Glens winning through to the final of the Western League Cup where they mowed the Meadow by three goals to nil at Stevenston with goals from Bobby Black and a double from Billy Paton.
The South Section league was wrapped up with a PL24 W21 D1 L2 record and Beith Juniors were defeated in a seven goal thriller at Stevenston in the Western League Championship decider, with a double from Ian Harris and singles each from Billy Paton and Willie McLean – the Junior Cup Runners-up were still Champions!
Danny opened his goal scoring account for the season in the opening day 5-2 league victory over Cumnock at Loch Park, the fourth season in a row he had scored in this fixture. As well as his Scottish Junior Cup goals against Bonnyrigg Rose in the semi-final he also scored two in the 1st Round (H, Kirrie Thistle, 6-1) one in the 2nd Round (A, Forth 4-0), one in the 3rd Round (A, Irvine Vics, 6-1), one in the 5th round (A, Pollok 1-0) and a double in the 5-0 thrashing of Cumnock Juniors in the quarter-final at Loch Park – with Billy Paton hitting a ‘wonderous’ hat-trick. Danny finished top goal scorer with 31 goals ahead of Billy Paton (28) and Nodder Kirkpatrick (21).
Western League Champions|Three-in-a-row
The Glens romped to the South Section title with an impressive PL22 W 19 D1 L2 F110 A39 Pts39 record. A Nodder Kirkpatrick hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Beith Juniors at Townhead Park clinched the Western League Championship for the third season in a row – the first team to do so other than Ardeer Recreation five-in-a-row during the War Years in a much reduced league set-up.
Danny scored a double in the 4-2 win over Ardeer Thistle to put the Glens through to the final of the Irvine & District Cup Final. Nodder hit a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw with Craigmark in the final and also scored in the replay whiched ended in a 1-1 draw. He scored again in the 2nd Replay but the Dalmellington side ran out 5-2 winners.
Scotland vs. Glasgow Select
Danny and Billy Paton represented Scotland Juniors against a Glasgow Junior Select side, in a game in which both players scored.
Far left: Billy and Danny
Left: Scotland Team with Danny 2nd from right front row, and Billy to his right.
Danny improved on his goal tally of the previous season hitting 39 goals in the season including another 4 in an 8-0 home league win over Maybole and a hat-trick in an 8-1 league win over Lugar at Loch Park.
However, it was Nodder Kirkpatrick that topped the goalscoring charts with a club record of an astonishing 65 goals in one season.
Danny topped the goalscoring charts for the sixth and last time with the Glens with 35 goals ahead of Nodder Kirkpatrick (27) and Billy Watson (18) taking his total with the club to over 300 goals in 10 seasons.
Both Danny and Nodder hit doubles in the opening day 4-3 league win over Cumnock Juniors at Loch Park. Danny scored League hat-tricks against Muirkirk (H, 5-0) and Hurlford (A, 7-3) with Billy Watson hittin four in that game. The Glens went on to score over 80 goals in their league campaign but lost out in the South Section to Kello Rovers, who in turn lost to Beith in the Western League decider.
Danny bagged a brace in the 2-1 win at Ashfield in the Scottish Junior Cup 1st Round and hit a hat-trick in the 10-0 victory over East Kilbride in the 3rd Round replay, although once again he was pipped by Watson who scored 4 goals. Danny struck twice in the 5-1 win away at Lochore in the 4th Round but the Glens run came to an end with a 1-0 home defeat to Bellshill in the 5th Round.
He scored all four goals in the victory at Lugar in the 2nd Round of the Western League Cup, but this run ended at the semi-final stage against Saltcaots Vics.
For the first time since Season 1957-58 the Glenafton finished the season with an empty trophy cabinet.
Honours did come the club’s way after captain Billy Moffat was capped for Scotland. He captained his country against Ireland and scored one of the goals ina 3-2 victory.
KILWINNING RANGERS | 1965/66
Danny and his family moved to Dreghorn and he signed for nearby North Ayrshire side Kilwinning Rangers. He was soon back at Loch Park when the Glens were drawn at home to the Buffs in the 1st Round of the Ayrshire Cup. Although Danny tested Glens goalkeeper John Watson it was Donachie, Killen and a Madden penalty kick that scored the goals for the Buffs in a comfortable 3-0 win.
The teams that day were Glens: Watson; Wilson, McGinn; Brennan, Neil, McMillan; McGowan, Swift, Cullen, Pitt and John McCulloch and Kilwinning Galloway; Smith, Keirs; Madden, Burnie, Watt; Donnachie, Danny McCulloch, Rollo, Dunne and Killen.
Both Glens and Kilwinning went on to win their respective South and North Section titles. The Saturday before the Championship decider at Cumnock four Glens player were injured in a car accident and despite requests to delay the play-off, it went ahead as scheduled. Missing from the Kilwinning line up was Danny McCulloch as favourites Buffs were crowned Western League Champions following a 4-1 victory; the ubiquitous “Newman” scoring for the Glens. It is assumed that Danny would receive a championship medal, to add to the 4 won while starring for Glenafton.
The Glens had more success at Cumnock in the final of the Western League Cup where goals from Robert McGowan, McMeekin and Nodder Kirkpatrick helped them to a 3-2 victory. These three players finished as the top three goalscorers with a combined total of 24 goals. The Western League Cup was to be the Glens last trophy until the end of season 1979/80.
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC | SEASON 1966/67
The Final Curtain
Danny did return to the Glens but only made a few more appearances. My incomplete records show the names of McCulloch and Brennan on the scoresheet in a 2-1 league win over Craigmark at Loch Park. Two Glenafton greats still scoring goals for the team they loved and served so well.
In 1967 Danny and his family settled in Dreghorn but he was never a stranger at New Cumnock and in his later years a regular visitor to Loch Park to cheer on the Glens.
DANNY McCULLOCH | Glens Supporter
When Glenafton hosted Pollok in the 3rd round of the Scottish Junior Cup the Glens decided to mark Danny’s goals against the Glasgow club in their back-to-win Scottish Junior Cup wins in 1961/62 & 1962/63 during the half-time interval. Mr Jim Gilligan of Pollok FC kindly agreed to hand over the memento. Always the joker, Danny as he stood in front of the nets that he knew so well, said ‘ My eye-sight isn’t what he used to be. but I’m glad to see the Glens go in at half-time 1-0 up! Of course Pollok were leading 1-0 and there was no further scoring in the second half.
HALL OF FAME | 11th June 2017
In Season 2016/17 Glenafton Athletic were crowned Western Premier Champions, Scottish Junior Cup Winners and Evening Times Champions Cup Winners.
The week after Glens had defeated Auchinleck Talbot 2-1 in the Scottish Junior Cup Final at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock the newly refurbished Campbell Hall was opened. That afternoon Glenafton Athletic initiated the club’s Hall of Fame.
The first inductee was Daniel Robertson McCulloch.
Also inducted that day was Richard “Nodder” Kirkpatrick , Danny’s fellow forward of the great Glenafton side of the 1960s.
Also inducted was Alan Rough manager of Glenafton team that won the Scottish Junior Cup for the first time in the club’s history in a treble winnning season of 1992/93. The fourth inductee was local lad Ian McEwan who captained the Glens side that brought silver-ware back to Loch Park in 1979/80 an the Ayrshire League title in Season 1982/83.
DANNY McCULLOCH 1935-2020
On Thursday 28th May 2020, Danny McCulloch passed away at Bute House Care Home, Cumnock. In accordance with his family’s wishes the funeral possession left Loch Park, home of Glenafton Athletic, and travelled along the Castle where supporters old and new applauded their appreciation whilst observing the social distancing restrictions. Danny was laid to rest in Afton Cemetery.
DANNY’S BIGGEST FAN
A big thank you to Mary Dornan, not only Danny’s sister but also his biggest fan. Mary has kindly given me access to her treasure trove of Danny’s medal collection, newspaper clippings and photographs . A big Glens fans too, here is Mary and her friends celebrating in 1993 as the Glens finallyy get their hands on the Holy Grail, the Scottish Junior Cup. Thank you too, to John Vass for restoring some of Mary’s photos for use on the web-site.
Here are some of my photos of my friend Mary.
I visited both Danny and Mary in Bute House Care Home Cumnock in late December 2019 after the Glens had defeated Cumnock Juniors in a league match at Townhead Park. We spent time together looking over many of the photos on view here which brought back many fond memories – Danny named all his team-mates in the Bank School team of 1948.
Robert Guthrie 4th June 2020