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Renfrew Junior’s Football Club is still functioning and is still well supported by the die hards, but it would take another long run, similar to that of 1962 when, after a hard fought match against Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, resulting in a 1-1 draw in front of 63,000 (yes sixty three thousand supporters) they were finally beaten 1-0 in the replay of the Scottish Junior Cup final. It would take a return to that form to once again get the support that they deserve. The snooker halls in Canal Street and the billiard tables in the Browns Institute are long gone, to be replaced by a licensed snooker club called the Inn Off which is situated at the bottom end of Ferry Road. So therefore although things seem to have changed drastically since the early part of the century, Renfrew still has a lot to offer to the sports minded person.
Returning to my early teenage days, I am reminded that one had to supply ones own entertainment, as money was still hard to come by. Most boys and girls had either a milk run or a paper round to augment the family income, for in those days pocket money was either in short supply or non existent, and after you had finished for the weekend it was great to be able to afford a Saturday night out at the Regal, and then wander up to Izzi’s cafe for a plate of “hoat peas” and a hot orange, which you tried to stretch out as long as possible before being asked to leave so that someone else could occupy the seat. This ritual was carried out without fail every Saturday evening, the only difference being, that the cafe venue changed.
It saddens me slightly to see youngsters even at the age of seven or eight years of age standing around street corners, bemoaning the fact, that there is nothing to do. Having already stated the sporting facilities available within the town I feel that something, or someone, has to motivate them into once again creating their own form of entertainment, which I think sadly has been lost to this generation by the introduction of the computer to society, and although a great innovation to the masses in general, in my honest opinion, for what that is worth, the introduction of computer generated games has deprived young people of expounding the energy within them by continuing the outdoor games practised by their parents. Without getting into too much detail I can fondly remember such exploits as, Kick the Can! Leave Oh! and street football where ones skills were honed by a “Tanner Ba”, and of course “Marbles”, which was a game of skill played with small round coloured balls, and one game comes to mind ‘Ringy” where a small circle or ring was drawn in the loose earth and each player placed one or two marbles in the ring, then you took turns from a predetermined distance to flick out as many as you could which then became yours, there were many other variants of the game but it still remained a boys prized possession, his “Jauries”. The girls were not left out of street play either, they will remember the times that they played chalk beds with a “Peever”, which consisted of, if you were lucky, a piece of 1” thick x 4” diameter white marble, but was usually constructed out of a Cherry Blossom shoe polish tin filled with sand or stones. They also played with skipping ropes, but being a boy I would never admit to participating or even knowing the different types of games. They also had dolls and prams, and even from William McMasters day still played at wee shops, and still used different pieces of coloured glass to determine the denominations of money.
It would be remiss of me to determine whether the children of today are better, or worse off, than those of yesteryear, but I feel that with the lack of work, and in my opinion, a failing in the education system to oversee that everyone left school with a fair degree of knowledge, that would allow them to pursue a decent job in society. It may be only my feelings, but I think that some of todays children seem to have little or no respect towards their parents, teachers, and their elders in general. Perhaps William McMasters “Devil or Belt” should be reintroduced as a punishment from an early age, thereby returning authority to the teachers from which it was taken. Who knows what the answer is.???.
Over the last fifty odd years Renfrew has changed dramatically, from the days when the population increased daily from 18,000 to 32,000, due to the influx off workers coming into the town to apply their skills in Babcock and Wilcox, the shipyards of Simons and Lobnitz and the Clyde Navigation Trust, Buchanan Oils, Scottish Cables, The Clyde Rubber Works and many other ancillary firms, all now sadly gone.
No longer do the trains wend their way from Glasgow and Paisley to our town, for long gone too, is the Low Railway which ran down to Renfrew Wharf and through Fulbar Street Station from which many a Sunday School trip from McDonalds Mission left, the brass band playing and hundreds of happy children looking forward to their day out at the seaside. Gone also is the High Railway Station, having been replaced by a housing scheme, and also sadly the aforementioned eight bridges.