Tommy Bryce

Tommy Bryce (Mk II) scored 95 goals for Queen of the South in 297 games placing him 19th in the club’s appearances list and fifth in the scoring chart. A man of high-speed hat tricks, Bryce was a Queen of the South player to merit a place in the record books over a decade before Ryan McCann belted in his goal from 84 yards. Bryce was a key player in the promotion-winning side of 1985/86 and was Man of the Match in the 1997 Challenge Cup Final.

 
Tommy Bryce contributed to this article with an interview in December 2008. In January 2009 an approach was made to Scotland Manager as he was at the time, George Burley, requesting he makes a brief contribution to this article. George’s comments on Tommy Bryce are included below.
 
Early Years
 
Tommy Bryce, born in Johnston in 1960, was not the first Tommy Bryce to play for Queen of the South. Tommy Bryce Mk I, a fine player his own right, played for Queen of the South in the 1970s in the era of Allan Ball, Iain McChesney, John Dempster and Crawford Boyd.
 
 
(Tommy Bryce, Mark I)
 
Tommy Bryce Mk II started his senior career in Ayrshire. “I played in the Premier Division when I was with Kilmarnock initially. I’m trying to think, probably about 1980 I think it was, I played for about half a season. I kind of fell foul of the assistant manager there, Davie Wilson".
 
Bryce then played over 100 games for Stranraer (during which he scored a hat trick against Arbroath) before then moving to Queen of the South in the 1985/86 pre-season to begin a happy association with the Doonhamers.
 
Queen of the South (1st spell)
 
On memories of the first spell (1986-88) Bryce enthused, “There was a few good games. I was only there for a matter of weeks and we got Celtic in the League Cup at Palmerston. We got beat, but went in 1-1 at half time and I’d scored from 25 yards against Pat Bonner.” This was a goal particularly fondly remembered by TV presenter and Queens fan, Stephen Jardine, when he was interviewed for qosfc.com.
 
 
 
“The games against Dunfermline stick out because of the size of the crowds. The game at Palmerston I think there was around 5000. And the game where we clinched promotion at Arbroath, Stewart Cochrane scored the goal.”
 
“The second season wasn’t as good. We stayed up but the team wasn’t doing so well. Mike Jackson was the manager but he left before the season ended, I don’t know why. Davie Wilson then arrived at Queens so needless to say I left.”
 
Best players from the first spell: “We had a good team then. I think obviously Jimmy Robertson stands out. He was a bit of a character as well. Alan Davidson in goal, Barney as he was known, was another character. Billy Reid who’s now manager at Hamilton, Graeme Robertson who went on to bigger things when he played in the Premier with Dunfermline, my mate Jim McBride who came across with me from Stranraer, and George Cloy. The best, though, was Jimmy Robertson. He was unusual in that he was tall for a winger,” commented Bryce before smiling dryly. “And he didn’t say much.”
 
After top scoring in both his seasons at Palmerston, Bryce was on the move. Queens’ loss.
 
Clydebank
 
“I enjoyed a good two seasons at Clydebank prior to leaving. Both seasons we just missed out on promotion to the Premier League, losing out to Hamilton and then Dunfermline. I top scored at Clydebank. I left to go to Ayr who weren’t as good a team as Clydebank if truth be told but things happened in my job. Safeway or Morrison’s as they are now called were closing where I worked and they were moving to a third party and we were getting paid off but we were guaranteed a job again. The new work involved unfortunately a seven day rolling week that would mean working in the evenings when I would be training. So I managed to get the opportunity with Ayr United to go full time and that suited me at that time.”
 
Ayr United and two Challenge Cup finals
 
“There were two now you come to mention it. We got to the final the very first year of it, I think it was called the B&Q centenary Cup and it was supposed to be just a one off and we managed to get to the final of it. About 2 or 3 weeks prior to the final I picked up a hamstring injury. I managed to pass a fitness test on the Saturday and the game was on the Sunday which was a close game. Dundee won 3-2 [after extra time], with a hat trick from Billy Dodds in actual fact. The following year we played Hamilton in the final, we ended up getting beat 1-0. Colin Harris scored, who came to Queen of the South in his later years.”
 
“I took up a job in insurance that meant working evenings. Albeit with Ayr I was training during the day, but fortunately for myself I had the opportunity to come back to Queens.”
 
Both of Bryce’s managers at Ayr have managed Scotland. Ally McLeod was in the hot seat when Bryce signed. It was then George Burley who took Ayr to the two challenge Cup finals at Fir Park.
 
George Burley in his tenure in the Hampden hot seat was kind enough to contribute to this article with the following:-
 
"Tommy was a very enthusiastic and dedicated player. He had a good football brain, with a useful turn of pace and a natural goal scoring instinct. Tommy was very much a team player and he was also extremely popular in the dressing room"
 
Queen of the South (2nd spell)
 
Once again Bryce’s days on his return to Palmerston were not uneventful.
 
 
 
Hat tricks: “The record breaking hat trick was in one minute and forty six seconds. I didn’t realise at the time that it was that sort of time frame because you get so caught up in the heat of the game. I vaguely remember the goals. I remember I scored four in that game against Arbroath [Queens won 6-0 that day]. I actually remember the fourth goal better than the other three. I think the other three were nothing spectacular, all from around the six yard box. The fourth one was a sweeping move from one end of the park to the other and that’s the reason I remember the fourth one. Just two seasons ago in the junior league I came across Toby King who I played directly against that day. He said to me that Danny McGrain who was Arbroath manager at the time had told him before the game to mark me. He then said to me that he couldn’t believe it, ‘10 minutes into the game he’s scored three goals’. He said he went into the changing room at half time and McGrain was going mental. That’s his recollection on it.”
 
The modest Bryce doesn’t do himself justice with his description of the three record breaking goals. The first came when he was first to react to get on to a loose ball. The second was another close range effort, as he suggested himself, shooting past the Arbroath keeper. The third came when he was put clean through, from which he rounded the goalkeeper and with the difficult part done, slotted home into the empty net.
 
Of course not content with one supersonic hat trick there was another (and not against Arbroath), this time taking a more leisurely 3 ½ minutes that had Dumbarton rocked. Again Bryce’s comments give an interesting insight into his grounded character:
 
"In that game against Dumbarton I scored four as well. I had a chance to make it five and missed an absolute sitter and that’s the thing that stands out in my memory of that game to be honest.”
 
Ever hit five in one game? “No. I’d never hit four until that time I scored the four against Arbroath.”
 
A happy day in the memory of Queen of the South fans lucky enough to be there, despite the final score, the Challenge Cup final v Falkirk:
 
“The Falkirk game was excellent I must admit. Queen of the South played out of our skins that day and we could have won it. Of the Challenge Cup finals I played in I enjoyed that one the most. I got man of the match in that game and you obviously enjoy it when you play well.”
 
Modesty indeed from the understated man who played in midfield that day giving a maestro performance that was a joy for all to behold: intelligence, poise, composure, touch, vision, skill, making space for yourself and using the ball well. As one person summed up after the game, ‘As you get older you get slower but what he has when he’s on the ball, he’ll never lose that’.
 
Bryce continued, “The whole lead up to it was very professional as well. We came to Dumfries the day before the game and stayed in a hotel and travelled up to Fir Park on the team bus on the day of the game. That never happened in the two finals with Ayr United. The whole thing was amazing to be involved in.”
 
As Bryce rightly said, Queens put in an excellent performance on that Sunday afternoon in Motherwell. Cheered on by over 5000 fans who screamed like howling banshees (the Queens fans in the stand along the side of the pitch in particular gave a great account of themselves), the game could have gone either way. Perhaps the best chance Queens had to take the game into extra time came near the end when Bryce teed up Derek Townsley for a clear shot on goal. Big Townsley was a decent scorer from midfield with 19 goals from 87 QoS league games, and went on to play top division football for Motherwell, Hibs and Gretna. Townsley’s reaction when he raised his hands after his shot said it all – not in celebration, but in disbelief as he put his hands on his head as on this occasion he watched the ball fly agonisingly over the bar. Final score, Falkirk 1, Queen of the South 0.
 
Best players at Queens in your second spell:
 
“Stevie Mallan did well for the club with the goals he scored [Mallan is one goal and one place behind Bryce in the club scoring chart in sixth with 94 strikes]. Craig Flannigan was a good player I thought, but he was blighted by injuries, right through his career, really. George Rowe for a centre half got more than his share of goals. David Kennedy who I’d played with at Ayr United. Des McKeown, he was another one who didn’t say much, as you know,” jested Bryce again, this time on his non-verbally challenged ex-team mate and now BBC pundit.
 
“Definitely Jamie McAllister and David Lilley have both done very well. They both went to Aberdeen. David Lilley’s still in the Premier League with Kilmarnock where he was captain. Jamie McAllister, as well as having played for Scotland, is at Bristol City doing very well. They both took care of themselves and were good pros. I see big Jimmy [Thomson] is still doing very well, a big character, he was another good player when I was there.”
 
Ever get to see Queens? “The only times I saw them last season was in the semi final of the Cup, and then the final. I took my son, who’s seven. He asked me to get him a Queens top so I got him one through the club shop.”
 
Clearly a seven year old of excellent decision making and outstanding potential.
 
“We’re usually playing on a Saturday during the season and in the Summer we’re sometimes playing three times in a week. I’m manager at Kilburnie Ladeside.” When asked if he still pulled on his boots Bryce smiled, “The only time I did that was in big Andy Aitken’s testimonial down at Annan”.
 
Going back to the trip to the Scottish Cup final it seemed reasonable to ask the name of Bryce junior. Tommy replied, “Hopefully it will be Tommy Bryce MKIII for Queen of the South FC!!!”
 
The Bryce is right.
 
Career League History:-
 
 
TOMMY BRYCE
 
 
 
Born: Johnstone, 1960
 
Position:
Forward
 
 
Teams
Seasons
Apps.
Gls.
Source : Ferguslie United
 
 
 
Kilmarnock
80-82
12
0
Stranraer
82-85
101
14
Queen of the South
85-87
83
35
Clydebank
87-90
74
26
Ayr United
89-92
110
30
Clydebank
92-93
24
1
Queen of the South
94-98
176
49
Partick Thistle (P./Mgr.)
98-99
19
3
Queen of the South
98-99
6
0
Arbroath
99-01
39
6
Stranraer
00-01
15
0
to Plyr./Mgr. of Glenafton Athletic
 
 
 
 
Totals
659
164
 
Kirk McLean

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