Today was meant to feature the latest in the series of singles by The Style Council but this is what I’d rather share with you today.

Some of you will know that this particular blog, which sprang into action in July 2013, is the descendant of The Vinyl Villain which ran with more than 1,000 postings (many of which were from guest contributors) between September 2006 and June 2013 when it was closed down by Google without any advance warning.

The one thing the two blogs have in common is the ability to bring total strangers together and turn them into close friends, even if they never ever get to meet in person. The common bond of course is a love of music and the fact that there are people out there who share similar tastes and whose fandom for certain singers, bands or even certain songs piques an interest.

It was a song that led to a blogger called Helpless Dancer (HD) to get in touch back in 2008, and after a very pleasant exchange of emails, this is what he ended up writing on his blog:-

Music and Dumbarton FC – Two Passions Collide

For a long time I have been searching through my boxes of stored CD’s looking for a CD Single by The Supernaturals which had a B-side entitled “High Tension At Boghead” to no avail.

Recently I have been checking out and enjoying the Vinyl Villain blog which features a massive amount of Scottish related music and as a last resort I posted a comment asking if by any chance they had the aforementioned track and to my great pleasure it has been posted today so many thanks VV!!

I should explain that the song is directly related to HD’s football team, which as you’ll have surmised from the title of his post is Dumbarton FC.

High Tension At Boghead is a strange but enjoyable wee number telling the tale of a young boy’s first venture to a ‘big’ football match, an occasion he found rather underwhelming but thankfully there was enough happening around the ground to keep him amused.

The picture at the top of this post is the rear of the main stand at Boghead, a ground I had the pleasure of visiting a few times and which has a particularly happy memory as being the place that I took a child to his first match – the son of my best mate (RIP) who at this point in time had left Raith Rovers to play for Ayr United at the tail end of his career.

Dumbarton FC left Boghead Park in 2000 and moved a few hundred yards away to a new ground by the banks of the river which flows through the town.  The old ground is now occupied by housing but it has of course been immortalised in song:-

mp3 : The Supernaturals – High Tension At Boghead

HD subsequently became a regular contributor to the blog via the comments section, as indeed did Son Of The Rock another music fan with a love for Dumbarton FC (or perhaps the other way round!!). I actually ended up going to a couple of Rovers v Dumbarton matches with SoTR, always thoroughly enjoying his company, but a couple of plans to meet up with HD fell through on my part.

HD’s blog came to a halt in mid 2011, some 18 months after the very sudden death of his wife at the young age of 49; it was clear to those of us who were reading his stuff that listening to a lot of his favourite music had just become too painful. He was the sort of blogger who wore his heart on his sleeve and the way he wrote about his love and adoration for his late wife was very moving. When he closed down the blog he indicated that archive postings would remain open which is why I’ve mean able to maintain a link over on the right hand side under the section ‘Old Friends No Longer Active In The Field’

The sad thing now is that HD himself has passed away at the age of 55 – very suddenly and very unexpectedly.

And it was only a week or so after his after his death that I’ve been able to join some dots and realise that HD was in fact not just a fan of Dumbarton FC, but one of those hardy souls who devote all their spare energy to their team. In this case, HD had risen from being a fan on the terraces to the position of Chief Executive at his club, a role that also saw him provide sterling service to the game in Scotland as a whole.

The realisation came from reading his obituary in a newspaper which mentioned that he had been widowed back in 2010 which was just too much of a coincidence for me not to delve a bit deeper. For the first time in ages I went back into his old site and there it was, just below the posting announcing he was closing down the blog, vital info that you could catch him on Facebook under his real name of Gilbert Lawrie.

The realisation hit me quite hard for the simple reason that on at least ten occasions over the past few years I will have been sitting a matter of yards away from him at football matches and had many an opportunity to introduce myself and say hello….and I really regret that it never happened. After all, over the years I’ve met a fair number of folk who I got to know initially through blogging, and to a man and woman they have been the most wonderful and warm people imaginable.  HD/Gilbert would have been no different.

The tributes for Gilbert Lawrie last week were many for he was incredibly popular in the small world that is Scottish football. At least one of the formal obituaries which appeared in a local paper made reference to his love of music and in particular that he was a fan and avid collector of all things by The Who. The conversation we would have had about Paul Weller would have been fascinating.

This one is for a good mate who I never ever met, but who I’m proud to say I knew.

mp3 : The Jam – So Sad About Us

RIP Helpless Dancer. The music and football worlds are poorer places without you.


  1. Sad news JC – a lovely and heartfelt tribute
    A sad loss for Scottish football also.Someone who was involved in the game for all the right reasons by the sound of things

  2. … which goes to show that all of us should get up off our lazy arses and meet up in flesh one day as long as we have the time to do so!

    The name – Helpless Dancer – rings a bell, although I think I’ve never visited his blog back then when it was still active. Sad news nevertheless ….

  3. I didn’t know HD, but now I feel like I do. A sad story about a special person that reminds us we are all on the clock. I’m touched.

  4. Sad news. I came to TVV for the music, but over the years have come to love being part of the site’s far-flung community as much as the tunes. Tragic to lose one of the crowd. Respect and warm regards to everyone here, today and always.

  5. Gee, JC, what a moving story and a lovely tribute to the friend whom you didn’t have the opportunity to meet in person. There really are a lot of good folks in this troubled world of ours – it’s easy to forget that sometimes.

  6. Sad and sobering. Getting to an age where death, even of those you aren’t really acquainted with, can make you pause has come to many of us.

  7. Jim ,

    That is a lovely tribute to Gilbert , I’m only sorry that it has taken me till now to read it

    I first met Gilbert when I joined the Boys Brigade in Dumbarton about 40 years ago , & I always remember him with his leather gloves little cane & that strange hat that the BB officers used to wear at that time with the 2 pleat like things at the back & even the last time I spoke with him when I picked up tickets for the Sons from him this season I still thought of him in that uniform !

    It’s funny how things turn out I first discovered TVV through Gilbert’s website & the mention of High tension @ Boghead & in turn corresponded with yourself culminating in an excellent trip to the Streets of Raith with Kenny to meet you.

    I thought it so very fitting that the first game after Gilbert’s death was again @ Raith & although I couldn’t attend I hoped that you were there taking part in the minutes applause for Gilbert (although you probably didn’t get the link at the time) It was sort of like closing of the circle for me.

    Gilbert apparently wasn’t born in Dumbarton but truly deserves the title as a Son of the Rock he was one of those chairmen who genuinely loved the club as a supporter & as such we trusted him in return. He will be sadly missed.

    His funeral is on Tuesday I won’t be going as I didn’t know him well enough but I’ll certainly pause for thought & thank him for in a strange way guiding me to your blog & friendship.

    There is a chant just now that is in vogue just now around scottish football grounds that I think could be used in this case

    “Gilbert Lawrie your one of our own ”

    Rest in peace mate & thanks.

    Son of the rock

  8. I’ve heard only positive things from opposition fans about Gilbert. He was obviously widely respected outside of his own club for being one of the good guys in football.

    I didn’t know about his love for music until reading your blog. You did him proud.

    RIP HD

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