Tommy’s wartime football recalled

Actor Simon Weir, well known for his roles in Scottish soaps High Road and River City, is looking for information on his grandfather’s wartime career in Shetland.

Flight Lieutenant Thomas Davis Ryan, known as Tommy, served in the RAF Volunteer Reserve based at RAF Sullom Voe. He was in the meteorological service, flying in Sunderland, Halifax and Oxford aircraft. Simon, 36, has a couple of mem­entos belonging to his grandfather, including a winner’s medal from a football competition in 1944 for The Shetland Times Cup. Tommy had previously played junior football with Duntocher Hibs and senior with Glasgow Celtic in the 1930s.

Wartime football in the isles was extremely popular, and according to Jim Peterson’s book The History of Shetland Football 1887-1987 an amazing 32 teams did battle in 1944, divided into divided into two divisions of 16 (north and south).

The RAF Sullom Voe team, known as “Northern”, won their division, ahead of the strangely named “Hashish Club” in second place, and also the knockout competition for The Shetland Times Cup. They defeated Bydand (Gordon Highlanders) 6-2 in the final at Gilbertson Park on 30th September in front of nearly 2,000 spectators. The winning team was: Simpson; Meldrum, Gregson; Phil­lips, Hardwick, Aarbuck; Ryan, Kane, Lee, Wright, Karlsen.

Following the war Tommy rejoined the RAF and served until 1961. After that he was a met officer for the British Gov­ernment and was posted to Nigeria, The Congo and Maastricht. He was last seen in Belize in the 1970s and Tarragona in Spain in 1982.

Simon never met his grandfather as he had left his wife and children in the mid-1960s, but would love to know more about him and his time at Sullom Voe.

Were you at that cup final in Lerwick? Do you remember RAF Sullom Voe? Did you know Thomas D Ryan? Simon, who will be appearing in Lip Service on BBC3 and the feature film Fast Romance next year, can be contacted at or at 223 Queen Victoria Drive, Scotstounhill, Glas­­gow, G13 1UU.


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