just to good a read to miss,Alfie Boyd story

31 August 2013 11:15
from boabs little piece of scotland , This is a story that needs told and I was lucky enough to be contacted out of the blue by Denis Hawken from South Africa. Denis had come across an old picture of his father playing in the Northern Transvaal League in South Africa. The picture was of the RAF Waterkloof football team who had just won the Northern Transvaal Section of the All African Cup (Air Force Cup) in 1942.

Denis had mentioned how his father used to tell him and his brother Brian, that he played with the Dundee Captain and Scotland Internationalist Alfie Boyd and he wanted to confirm that it was in fact Alfie in the picture.

RAF Waterkloof Team 1942, Alfie back row far right.

I was happy to confirm that it was Alfie in the picture, with the Waterkloof Goalkeeper Johnny.A Hawken. I was keen to learn more of Alfie’s early years, as we all know how he was a Dundee legend from Captaining and scoring the winning goal in the League Cup Final when Dundee beat Rangers 3-2 in 1951-52 Season Final. Dundee then became the first side to retain the League Cup in 1952-53 Season.

As for Johnny Hawken, he had a successful career in S.A. Amateur Football with Bellville City in the Cape Western League in Cape Town, in fact both his sons Denis and Brian also played for Bellville as first team goalkeepers and Denis went on to make the grade with Hellenic in the professional ranks in the early 80’s.

It was through just sheer good fortune Denis’s brother Brian happened to notice a trophy in the office, of one of his customer’s, it was exactly the same as the one his father had won with Waterkloof. It transpired that the owner of this trophy was in fact Heather Boyd, daughter of the Dundee legend Alfie Boyd. From this chance coincidence Brian asked Heather to contact me and the rest is history.

Heather emailed me and from there we started to correspond about her father’s football career. Heather explained that she actually had a scrap book full of the family memorabilia which included her Grand Father’s first aid exploits and how he and his team had won virtually every award possible in British Railways Ambulance competitions, as part of the LMS (London Midland Scottish) Dundee ‘Taybridge’ Stations team. Is this where Alfie got his winning mentality?

Alfie’s Father Alex, with the Bingham cup he won in the Annual ambulance competition at Arbroath

Heather was keen for her father’s scrap book to become part of Dundee Football Clubs memorabilia after I had written her father’s story. I assured her that if it was made available Dundee FC would be very interested, so Heather arranged for her cousin who was returning home to the UK to post the book to me on his return, so I could start work on Alfie’s story.

The book duly arrived, it was a treasure trove of newspaper cuttings and was very delicate, the items were that frail it felt a bit like opening an ancient manuscript. Items in the book covered Alfie and his older brother Alex’s early football careers from schoolboys, Juniors, right through to their senior football careers.

The Early Years

Alfred Boyd was born 22nd October 1920, Alfie and Alex were Dundee born and bred, both played for Stobswell School and Maryfield Rovers Juveniles, Alfie went on to represented Dundee District and Scotland at Schoolboy level.

Whilst with Stobswell he was team Captain during their victory over Logie in the Dundee United Cup at Tannadice.

Alfie pictured held aloft by his team mates holding the cup 1933


Alfie was capped and played in a 1-0 victory for Scottish Schoolboys over the "Auld Enemy" at Newcastle in 1935. In season 1938-39 whilst with ‘Maryfield Rovers’, he was acclaimed one of the best players in their Scottish Cup run, which unfortunately ended at the semi-final stage when ‘Jewel Bluebell’ defeated them 4-2 in Edinburgh, with Alfie scoring one of Maryfield’s goals. It was during this Cup run, that local Junior side, ‘North End’ signed him and it wasn’t long before Senior Club’s were interested in his signature also.

Alex, career was also flourishing as he was signed for Lochee Harp after spells with Dundee Taybank and Violet, Dundee FC signed Alex on an Amateur form in 1937, he also had the interest of many English and Scottish Senior clubs after the war. Alfie said Alex was the better player, but after the war he was happy to remain semi professional and carry on at his trade. Who knows what could have happened if the Harp Winger had turned full professional?

The War Years

Alex joined the Army RAOC and was made Lance Corporal, Alfie joined the RAF as L/A/C.

Alfie signed for St Johnstone in 1938 after just playing three games for North End, this was a measure of the talent he had and he was just beginning to make his mark with St Johnstone when war broke out. He joined the RAF in November 1940 aged 18½ and was posted to South Africa in 1941. This proved to be a great posting for him, as not only was he able to continue playing football it was also where he met his wife Doris. He was named team Captain of the RAF Waterkloof side, which played in many war effort fund raising matches against South African League sides and was also Captain of the Touring RAF South African side to Rhodesia. This shows how highly rated he was as a player, as many Scottish and English Senior players were posted in South Africa.

The RAF side beat top S.A. League sides Berea Park and GRI, it was noted that the RAF side were fortunate and the victories were mainly down to the "excellent defensive work by Boyd and fantastic goalkeeping of Abrey". Alfie stuck out in these games with his defensive ability and great link play with the forwards.

Alfie was also asked to guest for league side Arcadia who were languishing at the bottom of the table with no points after 5 games. It was no coincidence that Arcadia won their first game, with him being given great credit in their first victory a 4-2 win over JSAR.

It was in 1942 though that RAF Waterkloofs made their name and won the Air Force Cup and how this story began, due to link with Johnny Hawken being the goalkeeper at this time.

Waterkloof defeated Lyttelton 6-1 in a replay after the first game had ended in a 1-1 draw. Waterkloof were then drawn against Zwartkop in the Semi Final who they defeated 4-0, they then beat Voortrekkerhoogte 2-1 in the Northern Transvaal District Final.

The RAF Newspaper of the day "Tale Spin" carried the scare story that Alfie Boyd was doubtful for the Final the article was as follows.


"The news that Alf Boyd, popular idol of Waterkloof’s cup tie team, had a temperature of 104 on the day before the match caused great alarm." (A slight exaggeration, it later transpired the temp was only 101.)

"Sick Quarters, however, got to work and did an excellent job. So keen was the interest in Boyd’s condition that bulletins were posted up throughout the day."

Bulletins Issued re: Alf Boyd, by S.S.Q

Alf Boyd: Illness of----

 09-30 hours, 19th June—Phone message received by S.S.Q from Mrs Boyd. "Alf is ill."

10-00 hours, Ambulance proceeds to pick up the body.

10-30 hours, Alf in S.S.Q., M.O. passes no opinion.

10-31 hours, entire camp knows the Captain is ill.

10-31 to 13-00hours, entire camp (almost) visits or phones S.S.Q. staff decide Alf is not such a good bloke after all.

12-00 hours, 1st Bulletin – PROGRESSING WELL. Further outlook favourable.

13-00 hours, Intensive treatment by Ward staff.

14-00 hours, 2nd Bulletin -- NO CHANGE

17-00 hours, Further intensive treatment. 3rd Bulletin SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT.

20th June 1942 –Cup Final Day.

08-00 hours, 4th Bulletin –FIGHTING FIT

Source: Dundee Mad


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