The family tree of one of Kilwinning’s footballing heroes has been revealed in a book about the Hearts players who took up arms during World War One.
Author and genealogist Derek Niven has penned ‘Pride of the Hearts’ which shares the untold histories of the 16 Hearts players who enlisted in McCrae’s Battalion, 16th Royal Scots.
Most of the players came from the East of Scotland and England, but one was born in Kilwinning – Duncan Currie.
Derek told the Herald: “What became fascinating in the research for the Hearts book was just how gut-wrenchingly poignant the stories of the players revealed themselves during the Great War.
“In 1914-15, Hearts were on the historic cusp of lifting the league title.
“However, football training during the day and military training at night took its toll and the exhausted Hearts team were pipped by Celtic in the last couple of weeks that season.”
In the book, Derek tells how Duncan Currie was born in August 1892 at 18 Double Row, Eglinton Ironworks, Kilwinning, to father Robert Currie and mother Mary Ann Percy.
Around 1912, Duncan, an assistant hairdresser in Main Street signed for Kilwinning Rangers, a junior side supported by Baird’s, owners of Eglinton Ironworks.
Later that year, Duncan signed professionally for Hearts, winning four cups with the Tynecastle side.
Duncan’s brothers Bob and Sam also played professionally.
Bob played for Kilwinning Eglinton and had a spell alongside Duncan at Hearts.
Sam, who won the 1908-09 Scottish Junior Cup with Kilwinning Rangers, had a long and illustrious career at Leicester City, as a full-back and captain.
Duncan’s father Robert Currie was born in 1855 in Barrachnie, Lanarkshire, to father Robert Currie, a coal miner, and mother Jane Paterson.
Robert followed his father down the pits, eventually toiling as a coal miner at Baird’s ironworks in Kilwinning.
Duncan’s mother Mary Ann Percy was born in Kilwinning, baptised in St Mary’s RC, Saltcoats, in May 1855, to father Robert Percy, a furnace-man at the ironworks, and mother Catherine Kelly.
Sergeant 18999 Duncan Currie, 16th Royal Scots, just 23, was killed in action near La Boiselle, France, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, alongside four of his Hearts teammates.
The first of July 1916 became known as ‘the worst day in British military history’.
To read more about Duncan’s fascinating history and the other Hearts players of McCrae’s Battalion, Pride of the Hearts is available on Amazon.co.uk in paperback for £9.99 and eBook for £3.99.