Diment & Squair

In mid-1961 two young, Scots friends, Denis Law and Joe Baker, twenty-one and twenty and from the city of Aberdeen and largely Wishaw respectively, arrived in Italy, in Turin, to play for Torino. As such they seemed at the time very much pioneers but they were not, in terms neither of country nor city. Over half a century earlier two other Scots friends, a little younger still at nineteen and twenty, had taken much the same road but initially to Piedmontese capital's other club, Juventus, then Torino and with somewhat greater, combined longevity. Their names were John Bowman (Jack) Diment and James MacGregor Squair, the former largely from Wester Durris by Crathes, then in Kincardine, now Aberdeen, and the latter from Edinburgh. And whilst Law and Baker would last a season they stayed fully three. Nor would the comparisons end there. Fate had meant that both Baker and Diment were English-born, the latter an army child. Indeed Joe Baker had, before Italy even, turned out for England and would do so again, eight times in all and with three goals.   

But there was one great difference. In 1962 Torino would finish only seventh in Serie A, whereas in 1905 Juventus took the Scudetto, for the first time and from Genoa.

So, we thanks to the work of Andy Mitchell, now know precisely who Diment and Squair were, two very young wandering Scots, close enough to have married two sisters, then the questions remain as to how and why Juve. The full answer to the latter only they would have known and they are long dead, the latter already in 1909 and in Fuorigrotta, the Naples suburb, in which Napoli's Stadio Diego Armando Maradona is to be found, and the former perhaps in Exeter in 1959 or in 1978 in Hull.    

And the answer to the former is Newcastle. It is where they both worked in shipping and probably had met, the fates carrying them both to Tyneside. Juventus maintains that there they had played for Newcastle United. But there is no record. Yet the assertion might provide a clue. At the end of 1903-4, The Toon, fourth in the English 1st Division, already with a significant Scots contingent, went more so. Whilst Ayr-born Andy Aitken remained team captain, as did the somewhat nebulous but certainly Scots Frank Watt stay manager, J. Cameron became the chairman, Kilmarnock via Cupar's James McPherson was hired as trainer and players, Jimmy Lawrence, James Kirkcaldy and John Findlay, also arrived. The championship was won with the top-flight game in the city almost a Scots preserve, as it would remain for a decade. Thus, if a British shipowner of German origin and resident in Italy by the name of Walter Becker, who in 1901 had been instrumental in the foundation of Messina Football Club, had increasing interests in Turin and had had many of his ships built on Wearside and Tyneside, were asked by the Swiss, Alfred Dick, who was about to become President of Juventus, where to look for foreign talent it is perhaps not beyond possibility that he would have been pointed to the English North-East, where both cities' footballer mafia were Scots, there to be directed to two junior, amateur but aspiring members of it. It's a theory but not an entirely baseless one. It might also explain the otherwise surprising choice in 1909 of  Durham's West Auckland FC to be the British representative and unfancied winner that year and again in 1911 of the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, Gorbals-born Lipton also a Scot. It was a competition that also included Swiss, Italian and German teams and has to be considered with the British Championship as one of the fore-runner of the Central European Cup (1927-1960) and, with the Lipton Cup (1905-1929), same man, different continent, Scots involvement still, and the South American Championship (1916 onwards), of the World Cup (1930 onwards) and from 1955 the European Cup .     

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