Despite a 60-year absence from the East Lothian town, Bill Huggan’s heart still belongs to Dunbar United – and he’s become the football team’s largest ever investor after swelling club coffers with an emotional £10,000 donation.
The loyal 82-year-old, who made a small fortune as a successful merchant banker, sent Seasiders’ bosses into delirium last month with an out-of-the-blue phone call pledging the huge sum that could transform the fortunes of the East Lothian minnows.
Mr Huggan has lived in Hong Kong, Burma and England for more than half-a-century and, while he “can’t remember what I ate for breakfast”, can still reel off the table-topping Dunbar team from the late 1950s.
A tropical typhoon meant the Dunbar diehard missed the club’s greatest ever victory – a win over Cambuslang Rangers in the 1961 Scottish Junior Cup Final which the club says was watched by 50,000 fans.
The club, which now attracts home crowds of just 80 supporters, hope to use the money to retain their current crop of players and, possibly, make some bigger signings.
Widower Mr Huggan, who now lives in Kent, said his love affair with his hometown club was ignited by the quality of the players and passion of the support.
“Dunbar was a super team in my day with some super players, some of whom went much further in the game,” he said. “They were something special.
“My passion for the club was built on the abilities of he players – some of them shouldn’t have been at Dunbar.”
An occasional visitor to Easter Road, Mr Huggan said he preferred Saturday afternoons in Dunbar.
“It’s changed days now and football is a money game,” he said.
“Dunbar United would sink in a money game and I hope I have helped postpone that for a bit.
“I really wouldn’t like to think they might go down the drain and they seemed to be in a bad shape.”
Secretary of Dunbar United JFC Kit Fraser said the club has one of the lowest budgets in junior football and the left-field investment had taken his “breath away”.
He said: “It’s a huge sum compared to the still generous support we raise from local businesses and our weekly lottery.
“Bill’s generosity gives us the chance perhaps to strengthen the side and hang on to our players who have been making a name for themselves throughout the season.
“It would also be great if Bill’s enthusiasm encouraged a few more local people to come through the gate on a Saturday.”
Biggest day in club’s 89-year history
DUNBAR United’s victory in the 1961 Scottish Junior Football Cup at Hampden was the crown jewel in their 89-year history.
The all-conquering team returned from Glasgow to a heroes’ welcome in the thronged town’s High Street, where they enjoyed a civic reception at Dunbar Town House.
The New Countess Park side are consistent performers in the East Region Junior league despite having to cut their cloth recently amid dwindling finances. Captain of the
1961 side, Adam “Old Faitful” Rae, was the oldest member of the team at 33 and sadly passed away two years ago.
Dunbar United moved to their current ground, shared with Dunbar RFC, in 2001.