The Ball Game‎ > ‎


Pete, one of the main characters, is a student at Dundee Tech (Institute of Technology), founded in 1888 and granted degree-giving status in 1994 to become Abertay University. Nowadays, courses such as "computer game technology", “food product design" and "sport health and exercise" are all on the syllabus. In the 1960’s, it was all much more traditional. Pete is studying mechanical engineering. He is: excited by new technology, the coming age the computer.

Forfar Academy
But his father is disgusted. He thinks Pete should stay at home and work on the family farm north of Forfar. So Pete has to race home every day to milk the cows and do his list of farm chores, cycling as if the hounds of hell were on his heels up Victoria Road, past The Morgan school (where Alice is a pupil) over the Kingsway (where Alice and Marjory live) and on towards Forfar.

Not for Pete, time-wasting in The Ref (the Reference Library in the Albert Institute – nowadays the McManus Galleries) where students would spread out an impressive range of textbooks, then leave these to go and stand outside… puffing on cigarettes… looking down towards the Caird Hall….or repair to a tearoom on Reform Street. And not for him the teenagers’ café scene in Green’s Playhouse and The Hap. But if he wants to meet up with the beguiling Alice, he is going to have to try to get there soon…


The Tay Road Bridge was not opened until 1966. The Ball Game takes place in 1964. Pete and his brother James, driving their father’s Zodiac from their farm to the Ball in St Andrews have a choice: they can either queue to take the car on the old ferry, nicknamed The Fifie*, or they can take the long way round by Perth. It is Friday evening and the ferry queue is long and slow – the ferry does not take very many cars at a time across the Tay from Dundee to Fife. They go by Perth... and wish they hadn't.

*The Fifie was actually a sailing boat, used by Scottish fishermen from the 1850s until well into the 20th century to fish for herrin