Aug 262016
 

Former Aberdeen FC stars, John Hewitt and Russell Anderson are backing the Friends of Murcar campaign which aims to secure a leading role for the North East club and its championship course in the Scottish golf scene. The campaign includes a competition to win round of golf with the Pittodrie legends. With thanks to Duncan Fisher.

FRIENDS OF MURCAR

Former Aberdeen FC stars, John Hewitt and Russell Anderson are backing the Friends of Murcar campaign.

One of Scotland’s classic links golf clubs, Murcar Links, has adopted a fundraising approach with a difference after launching its Friends of Murcar crowdfunding campaign to drive the club forward while contributing towards young golfers in the region.

The Aberdeen-based club is looking to raise £250,000 to fund the first phase of a new irrigation system to further enhance its championship course and ensure it remains one of Scotland’s best for generations to come.

The continued development of Murcar as a venue is expected to have a positive effect on the wider golfing community.

In keeping with Murcar’s keen support for youth development, 10% of the final amount raised by the Friends of Murcar campaign will be donated to the Paul Lawrie Foundation which provides opportunities for juniors of any age and background to take part in golf.

Although common within the business world, crowdfunding campaigns are a relatively alien concept for sports clubs. Murcar is hoping the approach will cement its position as a progressive club at the heart of Scottish golf, where it supports the game’s development at all levels from local junior programmes through to full European Tour tournaments.

Launched by Aberdeen FC living legends, John Hewitt and Russell Anderson, at the club, the Friends of Murcar campaign offers numerous fundraising entry points and rewards and, as extra incentive for Dons fans, anyone donating a minimum £20 will be entered into a prize draw to win a fourball with a friend to play alongside the Pittodrie heroes.

Commenting at the launch, Murcar Links club captain, Malcolm Gunnyeon, said:

“As a club, we are constantly looking at ways to innovate and improve on and off the course and, following years of supporting local, national and European golf as a venue and partner, we felt this was an ideal time to try something a little bit different to support the next stage of the development of Murcar Links.  

“We are proud of the role we have always played in supporting the development of golf within the North East and we hope the Friends of Murcar campaign will enable us to take the courses to another level for the benefit of not only members, but the range of visitors, competitors and partners who use it on a regular basis.

“The grassroots of the game are so important to a club like ours so it was an easy decision to donate 10% of the money raised to the Paul Lawrie Foundation. It does a fantastic job introducing youngsters to the game who, ultimately, will be the lifeblood of golf in the future. Support of the Foundation sits very well with our decision to make junior golf free at Murcar in 2016.”

1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup hero, and Murcar member, John Hewitt, added:

“I’ve been a member at Murcar for nearly 20 years and have seen the course develop over that time. At its best, it’s right up there with the top Scottish courses and if the club is able to raise the necessary funds, it will be fantastic for both members and the wider golfing community.”

Former League Cup-winning captain, Russell Anderson, said “The North East has great facilities across all sports and it is important those within the sporting community continue to offer opportunities for participation at all levels. Murcar Links is a fantastic golf club and the proposed works will help it continue supporting golf development in the region for many years to come.”

Full details of the Friends of Murcar campaign, including fundraising rewards and donations, can be found at murcarlinks.hubbub.net.

More Info:

Founded in 1909, Murcar Links, sitting on the picturesque Aberdeenshire coast, is a stunning and classic test of Scottish links golf, popular with members and visitors alike.

A regular host of tournaments of all levels, including the 2015 European Tour’s Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play, the club has a particular commitment towards the development of youth and amateur golf, having held qualifying for the Senior Open Championship as well as the full European Boys Team Championship and European Challenge Tour’s Scottish Challenge in recent years.

The Paul Lawrie Foundation (PLF) was launched in 2001; two years after Paul famously won the 1999 Open at Carnoustie. It provides opportunities for juniors of any age to start playing golf, compete at golf and improve their capabilities to the highest level.

The mission of the Foundation is to get as many young people playing golf as possible but, ultimately, it would be great to see someone who started out or developed their golf with the Foundation winning on tour or even going on to win a Major championship.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
May 172013
 

Steven Severin, a founder member of the legendary band Siouxsie and the Banshees, returns to Aberdeen for a rare LIVE performance at Peacock Visual Arts on Saturday, 1st June.

Following on from his 50 date Vampyr world tour throughout 2012, Steven Severin returns for 9 select UK shows, giving audiences a rare opportunity to hear his electronic score for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

This score was first premiered in a series of performances at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009 and is the fourth in his ongoing film accompaniment series – Music For Silents.

In live performance, this acclaimed solo artist and founder member of Siouxsie and the Banshees, presents a mesmerising synthesis of sound and image, heightening appreciation of the surreal and enigmatic nature of the original work.

During their reign, Siouxsie and the Banshees established themselves as one of the foremost groups of alternative artists and the only survivors of the London punk scene to evolve, innovate and succeed until their final demise in 2002.

Severin has since committed himself, almost exclusively, to scoring for film and TV and, since 2008, has been performing live electronic accompaniment to silent films.   In doing so, he has successfully startled audiences which have now come to expect the unexpected from a man who has crossed paths with such diverse luminaries as John Cale, Alan Moore, Lydia Lunch, Marc Almond, Merc Cunningham, Robert Smith and the Tiger Lillies.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Robert Weine’s unsettling tale of fear and obsession, finds its aural counterpart in Severin’s suitably textured score – a synthesised, highly atmospheric soundscape drawing the viewer rhythmically into the dreamlike imagery on screen.

In the film, which is often cited as one of the most influential films of the silent era, Werner Krauss plays the title character – a sinister hypnotist who travels the carnival circuit displaying a somnambulist named Cesare, played by Conrad Veidt.

In one tiny German town, a series of murders coincides with Caligari’s visit and when the best friend of hero Francis (Friedrich Feher) is killed, the deed appears to be the conclusion of a romantic rivalry over the hand of the lovely Jane (Lil Dagover.)

Francis suspects Caligari but he is ignored by the police and, investigating on his own, he seemingly discovers that Caligari has been ordering the somnambulist to commit the murders.  But the story eventually takes a more surprising direction.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, remains to this day an important part of the history of German cinema as it was one of the very first horror films and its expressionist style was essential to the development of film noir.

Severin is appearing at Peacock Visual at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday 1st June, 2013.

Tickets, which cost £10 each, are available from Peacock Visual Arts and can be booked by calling 01224 639539.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Oct 042012
 

Rock and roll legend Terry Reid is appearing at Drummonds on Sunday 14th October. Joe Whimster writes.

Quality transcends generations.  The celebrity endorsements Terry Reid has received from those at the cutting edge of Rock and Roll have continued for decades and confirm his enduring talent and position as one of the UK’s finest performers ever.

Famously, Jimmy Page identified him as his first choice to front Led Zeppelin and it was Terry himself who suggested Robert Plant as a suitable substitute.

Aretha Franklin was also a fan, stating in 1968 that,

“… there are only 3 things happening in England; The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Terry Reid.” 

More recently, Jack White and his Raconteurs covered Terry’s Rich Kid Blues and DJ Shadow had Terry guest on the hauntingly beautiful Listen from his new Reconstructed album.  The respect Terry receives from his peers and collaborators is tangible.

Despite this, fame and fortune has somehow eluded Terry, but this only enhances the intrigue.  How could a man so immensely talented, a man so steeped in Rock history – from his breathtaking appearance at Glastonbury in 1970 to numerous film soundtracks, to albums filled with poignant beauty and heartfelt soul – be anything other than a household name?

Frankly, to anyone who has seen Terry perform, or listened to any of his tremendous back catalogue, it is one of life’s greatest mysteries.

Terry returns to Aberdeen for an intimate show at Drummonds this month.  If you only make one show this year, it must be this one.

Terry Reid is truly a Rock and Roll legend and the opportunity to see talent of this magnitude does not come along often.  Join him at Drummonds in Belmont Street on Sunday 14th October from 7:00pm.

What they say about Terry:

“Terry Reid is the rare living legend whose enthusiasm for music remains unscathed and pure, nearly 50 years on.”  – DJ Shadow

“….The most soulful British vocalist ever..” – The Independent

“‘…Terry Reid’s voice has the power to provoke an intense reaction…” – The Times

“…Astonishing by any standards: spine tingles, hair prickles on back of the neck..” – The Independent

“…When Reid bares those emotions it’s heartbreakingly beautiful…” – The Guardian

“..this man should have had my life” – Robert Plant, The Joint ,Beverly Hills 2004
 

For further information please contact Joe Whimster at jwhimster@gmail.com

  •  Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jun 222012
 

With the personnel turnaround in football being higher than at any time in the game’s history the mantle of ‘club legend’ is probably easier to assume than ever. Consequently, it’s quite refreshing to write about a genuine club legend being with a club for around fifty years. Dave Watt writes.

Teddy Scott’s official connection with Aberdeen FC began when he was signed by Dons Manager Davie Halliday from Scottish Junior Cup winners Sunnybank in 1954 and finished when he retired in 2003 – a period which covers around half of the club’s existence.

During his career as coach and kitman he served under twelve managers and endured the club’s occasional struggles with relegation and participated in the heights of numerous domestic triumphs as well  as the ultimate joy of two European trophies in the 1980s.

Teddy’s coaching duties were mainly with the youth and reserve sides and his philosophy was encapsulated in his much quotedYou try to teach the youngsters good habits as well as skills and hope they will still be around when the club can reap the benefit”

In the harsh and largely unsympathetic world of professional football it speaks volumes for Teddy Scott that generations of Aberdeen players regarded him as a father figure and mentor long after they themselves had retired from playing. The club recognised this in 1998 where it took the unprecedented step of awarding a reserve coach a testimonial against Manchester United at Pittodrie.

It’s probably a trite statement to say that ‘We shall not see his like again’ but it’s just as probably true. In a game which to my cynical old eyes (mostly watching footy on the tv these days) seems to be worryingly infested with pampered and increasingly precious 19 year old multi-millionaire drama queens, I can’t imagine a new Teddy Scott arising or being appreciated if he did arise.

A friend of mine remembers seeing Teddy in Ellon a few days after the Cup Winners’ Cup Final back in 1983. It was a bright May morning and the city of Aberdeen was recovering from the notion that it’s very own provincial club was up there with the ‘big guys’ at last. Players, managers and fans had been in a five day media circus and there was another big cup final with Rangers coming up with still more media hype on the horizon.

While all this was going on each morning saw Teddy in his usual snorkel parka carrying his ‘piece bug’, getting on to the Ellon – Aberdeen bus and basically looking every inch the picture of  ‘jist a mannie gan awa tae his work’. I’m sure this deserved some sort of Turner prize for sheer bloody lack of pretension.

Having said that about pretension I’ll pretentiously quote Shakepeare’s Henry V as my summing up for Teddy Scott and the rest of the ordinary, working, common sense humanity everywhere.

‘We are but warriors for the working-day;

Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch’d

With rainy marching in the painful field;

There’s not a piece of feather in our host–

Good argument, I hope, we will not fly–

And time hath worn us into slovenry:

But, by the mass, our hearts are in the trim’

Image Credit: Thanks to Aberdeen FC

Mar 292012
 

Aberdeen Voice received an advance copy of Adam Ardrey’s book, ‘Finding Merlin The Truth Behind The Legend’.  Suzanne Kelly read the work and found not a sword-in-the-stone work of sorcery, but a well-constructed case for Merlin’s being a historical figure – from Strathclyde. Suzanne explains.

‘Merlin’ is a very compelling work which attempts to unravel the famed tale of Merlin and Arthur.

Virtually every corner of the UK lays claim to being the true home of the actual historical figures which were morphed by time and embellishing writers into the heroic figure of Arthur and the magical figure of Merlin.

The emergent Catholic church played a significant role in what was and what was not recorded of the Sixth Century world of Merlin. If you are looking for a tale of Camelot or a mystical account of the age and its people, you will be disappointed.

If on the other hand you have some curiosity as to what forces shaped the era, who were the key players and what motivated them, and if you are receptive to new theories as to whom Merlin may have been, then you’ve found a great resource in this book.

The author has a legal background, and has the ability to conduct research on a wide range of subjects. Ardrey offers impressive, thought-provoking, logical theories and clearly explains the rationale behind his well-constructed conclusions.

He notes that spellings varied greatly and were largely phonetic; he examines literature and fiction from several centuries, and offers insights into what truths may be hidden behind allegory and myth. He takes fantastic tales of fantasy, strips away the clearly impossible elements and seeks grains of truth using wholly reasonable deductive logic. There are coincidences in his family name, Ardrey, and some of the areas he comes to research which make the work all the more personal and intriguing.

If as the author suspects Merlin and his sister Langoureth were born in Strathclyde, then he has also found many jigsaw puzzle pieces to support the claim. Explanations of the term ‘Pendragon’ are offered, suggesting that this was a title and not an individual’s name. The influence of St Mungo and his evangelical, ambitious promotion of the young Christian church come into direct conflict with the older way of life championed by Merlin. All this religious conflict was set in the age of constant warfare between the British people and the Angles.

If the author is correct then Merlin had a formidable sister in Langoureth, queen of Rhydderch; she was well-educated and powerful, and likely used great diplomacy to balance Mungo and the new church with Merlin and the old ways.

It would be unfortunate if the author is correct and a burial site which may have been Merlin’s was opened nearly 200 years ago and its contents are now lost. But I found myself buying into many of Ardrey’s theories, and unfortunately I think he may be correct on this point as well.

For me ‘Merlin’ was an absorbing, thought-provoking read; one I can happily recommend.

More Info –  Finding Merlin The Truth Behind The Legend

Buy ‘Merlin’ at Amazonwww.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Merlin

Image credit:  http://finding-merlin.com/

Mar 152012
 

For the third time in less than a year, Dons fans and players of a certain age will be wearing mourning clothes, literally or figuratively. David Innes reminisces on Jens Petersen, a man whose dedication to the Dons in the 1960s makes him truly worthy of legendary status among Reds followers.

It was with heavy hearts that we learned of the death of Jens Petersen, a stalwart servant of the mid and late 1960s whose brave battle against death ended in noble defeat on 8 March 2012.

This follows far too closely the deaths of Eddie Turnbull in April 2011 and Francis Munro in August last year.

Another one of the Reds family has gone, and it hurts.

For the many friends Jens made during his time at Pittodrie, the hurt is because they knew him, they appreciated his determination to succeed and the inspiring leadership that he offered, but most of all, the lasting friendship that they formed with someone who is unanimously regarded as one of the genuine good guys.

Among the fans who remember Jens, it hurts because we too have lost someone we looked up to, someone who played the game in its proper spirit and a man who took delight in meeting fans, taking an interest in them and making them feel that they, as much as the players, were all part of the same whole.

We have lost a hero.

Jens arrived in Aberdeen with fellow Danes, Jorgen Ravn and Leif Mortensen, all signed by Tommy Pearson in 1965, when Scottish clubs realised that Scandinavia was a new hunting ground for players of good quality who fitted into the Scottish style of play. Whilst Ravn and Mortensen left Pittodrie after a short while, Eddie Turnbull spotted that Jens had something special that would fit with the Turnbull football vision and not only kept him on at Pittodrie, but made him a key member of the first team.

In 1966, the jewel in the Reds’ crown was Dave Smith. His performances in midfield and in the curious “sweeper” role that Eddie Turnbull introduced meant that he was an attraction for bigger, more predatory teams. I recall, to a background of Yellow Submarine, the news coming through in August 1966 that our star had signed for Rangers and that the Dons were £45000 better off.

The money was unimportant; we had lost our most influential player. How, the devastated 9 year old me worried, could we go on without Dave Smith? Eddie Turnbull had a cunning plan: Jens Petersen.

What the Boss had seen in Jens was someone who could naturally play the role that Smith had made his own, a man possessed of an unflappable temperament, comfortable with the ball at his feet in defence or midfield, an athlete, excellent in the air and with an ability to break from defence with the ball, striking panic into the opposition, a sight to behold.

US sports fans were amazed that the players did not wear body armour

The statistics tell us that Jens Petersen made 203 appearances for Aberdeen and scored 11 goals.

These are merely numbers. Influence and dynamism cannot be enumerated.

It’s a long time ago, but I can still remember his late spectacular goal against Morton to put us into the League Cup semi-final in 1966, my uncle’s surprised comment, “Look, the Dane’s wearin’ san’sheen”, when Jens decided that a frosty pitch later that season needed alternative footwear, and his ill-luck in the 1967 Cup final where his shot into an open goal was miraculously saved by Celtic’s Ronnie Simpson’s sliding clearance from the goal line.

When Jens left the Dons in 1970, his number 6 shirt was bequeathed to Martin Buchan. That illustrates the level of talent at which he operated.

My own contact with Jens was limited to a couple of phone conversations about the 1967 Washington Whips. Chalky Whyte gave me Jens’s number and encouraged me to call him in Denmark. He answered in Danish. I said, “Hello, I’ve been given your number by Jim Whyte”. Jens’s response (and that of his wife Dora when I called on another occasion) was that he was delighted to speak to me, but before he spoke about the USA in 1967, how were his friends at Pittodrie?

My lasting memory of the discussion was that he was asked by a US interviewer, “Petersen, have you ever burst a ball with your head?” and that US sports fans were amazed that the players did not wear body armour. His English, and Dora’s, was better than mine and he was a joy to interview.

Chalky, Ally Shewan and Ian Taylor have often spoken to me about the friendship they maintained with their great pal Jens and their memories and anecdotes will help ease some of the hurt that these guys and their colleagues are feeling.

Jens was only just 70 when he died, which is no age at all these days, and he was an outstanding athlete, still running marathons into his 60s.

The Northern Lights are significantly dimmer with his departure.

Image Credit: Aberdeen Voice is grateful to Aberdeen Football Club for use of Photographs. 

Mar 092012
 

With thanks to Dave Macdermid. 

Organisers of the Denis Law Soccer Tournament, which replaced the longstanding Aberdeen International Football Festival last year, are looking to cement the financial future of the event with the formation of a ‘Friends’ group comprising 200 members.

Scotland legend Denis, the Patron of the DLST, is passionate about the tournament.

“Sport and in this case, football, forms an important part of a child’s upbringing and I firmly believe the experience and enjoyment that kids get from this event in my home town will stay with them forever. The organisers need your support to be able to sustain this worthy cause and I would urge you to become a Friend to ensure it can continue as an annual event. I look forward to seeing you at some point during the year to thank you personally.”

And everyone who signs up at £200 per annum to become a ‘Friend’ will get the opportunity to do just that as there will be ‘Friends of DLST’ reception at Aberdeen Sports Village, hosted by Denis himself.

In addition, Friends will receive recognition of support within the tournament programme, venue and website, a quarterly e-newsletter and entry into a prize draw for a complimentary team to be included in the DLST corporate football event.

This year’s tournament will take place at ASV between July 16th and 21st with action at 16 and Under and 14 and Under age groups.

Anyone wishing to become a Friend can pay via BACS, cheque or debit card via the ‘Friends of DLST’ link on www.aberdeensportsvillage.com or by contacting ASV Events Manager Fiona Cardwell on 01224 438926 or fiona@aberdeensportvillage.com

May 052011
 

Voice’s  David Innes pays tribute to a true football legend.

Mere words are difficult to fashion into any sort of coherence to describe the gratitude those of us of a certain age feel for Eddie Turnbull, who roared into sleepy, plodding Pittodrie in 1965 and gave Aberdeen fans their pride back.

I had the pleasure of meeting him fourteen years ago, and the afternoon I spent with him in the Barnton Thistle Hotel I still regard as three of the best hours of my life.

He was 74 then, frail after a lung operation and tiny in frame. Not so in personality, neither in enthusiasm and passion for the game which was his obsession. Twenty six years after he’d left Pittodrie having just failed to win the league title with the Dons, he still retained great affection for the club and his recollections when probed by me on trainspotterly specifics of the 1967 USA tour were as clear as the water with which he would later dilute the bottle of 12 year old Glenlivet gifted him as a token of my gratitude and respect.

From 1965 to 1971, this “wee mannie frae Falkirk” as he described himself, revolutionised Aberdeen FC.

That is not too strong a verb. His first result, beating Rangers 2-0, endeared him to the fans. His new-broom coaching methods and legendary fierce discipline earned him the respect of the players and his iron will even had the club’s directors wondering if they’d perhaps have preferred a yes man in charge, for he wasn’t that.

Having endured the perils and hardships of serving in the North Atlantic merchant fleet running cargo to Murmansk during the Second World War in the face of fascist bombs and torpedoes, a few local businessmen in suits and trilbies were hardly going to frighten Eddie Turnbull.

None ever refers to him as “Eddie”. He was, and is “Boss”. That’s respect, but it’s also affection.

The 1970 Scottish Cup win was his most tangible achievement and the following season’s thrilling title chase was proof that the squad he had patiently assembled was equal to Celtic’s which had reached the European Cup final the season before.

Many of us of that vintage, who marvelled at the coolness of Martin Buchan, the energy of Davie Robb, the sniper-like predatory accuracy of Joe Harper and the guile of Steve Murray remain convinced that had the manager not returned to his beloved Hibs, the title would have been won in 1971-72 and sustained success would have been ours a decade before Fergie took us to previously-unimaginable heights.

The Hibs team he built in the early 1970s played beautiful football and it is surprising that 1972’s League Cup was their only trophy success. A major regret, he told me, was that Hibs did not beat Aberdeen to European success a decade before Gothenburg, succumbing tamely on reaching the quarter final of the European Cup-Winners Cup.

“They didn’t want it enough”, was his opinion.

He left Hibs in 1980 and was lost to club football – a huge oversight given the state that it’s now in and considering the foresight he might have brought to it. Yet, he said that the greatest pleasure he derived from football was seeing young men make their way in the world, helping them develop their innate talent and seeing them and their families thrive and prosper.

Although he was a hard man, this was an indication of the standards that he set and which he bred into those who shared his fitba vision and passion.  I still have regular contact with some of his Pittodrie players. None ever refers to him as “Eddie”. He was, and is “Boss”. That’s respect, but it’s also affection.

Not only have the Dons and Hibs lost a legend – that’s a TRUE legend, look up its definition – the football world at large has lost an innovator, a tactical genius and above all, a passionate advocate for all that was good and artistic in the game.

I thought he would live forever and I suppose for those of us with memories of his Aberdeen teams from 1965-71, he will.

Sleep easy Boss, you’ve earned it.

Dec 172010
 

By Gubby Plenderleith.

I had arrived early and not a little nervous at Dundee’s Trocadero Restaurant to interview a man who has been a Scottish legend for over sixty years.  My anxiety however, owed more to his reputation as a hell-raiser and the countless stories of his encounters with fellow journalists, in which the denizens of the fourth estate had unfailingly come off second best, than to his celebrity status.

I also expected – and secretly hoped – that, again in line with his notoriety, he would fail to show, or at least arrive so late (and so inebriated) that any interview with him would be impossible and I could escape the feared ordeal while still retaining a degree of credibility.

It was not to be.  At exactly one o’clock (as arranged) a rather distinguished silver haired man, wearing a black Armani suit and a pearl grey collarless shirt, entered the restaurant and almost glided up to my table.

A warm smile spread across his tanned face as he held out a friendly hand in greeting.  “William McCallum,” he said in a soft, transatlantic voice, “Pleased to meet you.  Please, call me Bill”.

As I took the extended hand, I found it hard to believe that I was face to face with the famed “Oor Wullie” of my Sunday morning childhood and, more to the point, that I was here to interview and have lunch with him.  “They tell me the langoustine are excellent here”, he almost whispers.  “I’m almost vegetarian these days – certainly no red meat, but I still eat the occasional chicken and I absolutely adore fish”.

Suddenly my previous apprehension has disappeared and I’m unexpectedly enjoying the experience of sitting in one of the swankiest eateries this side of Watford Gap with the most famous man in Scotland.  “Don’t be frightened to ask me anything you want”, he invites, “I’ve learned to confront my past and nothing can hurt me any more.  The way I see it”, he says, taking a sip of Pellegrino, “what was happening back then was happening to Wullie, not to Bill McCallum.  All these stories about my debauched lifestyle that was just …”, he looks away for a moment, searching for the right word, “… mince!”

“But,” I ask him, “What of those stories about him and Primrose, how they were reputed to be caught up in the drug scene, consorting with underworld gang bosses and throwing wild orgies in his baronial castle on Tayside”.

“Ah, Primrose”, he whispers wistfully, “we’re still very close.  I’m godfather to her youngest boy and often visit she and her husband at their home in Luss”.

“But… the parties and the gangland connections – put it down to being a daft boy.  I was a daft boy, after all.  I mean, I came from a working class background and was suddenly catapulted into the limelight at the age of nine – what kind of chance did I have?  In some ways, it was my own personal zeitgeist, if that doesn’t sound too much like some sort of aphorism”.

“But don’t get me wrong”, he smiles, “I’m not trying to make excuses.  Sure, with a bit of discipline, I could have avoided all of that.  But I didn’t have the education and my mother and father didn’t have the education, or the experience of money either, to keep me on the straight and narrow”.

“Still”, he says, “things didn’t work out too bad in the end.  I bought my parents a place in Millport where they saw out their years and I’ve got myself a fairly decent place in Provence….And all these stories. Well”, he smiles, “a lot of these were made up by the press, especially the paper I used to work for”, he winks, “But I’m not allowed to mention the name of that – it was part of the court settlement”.  I nod.

“What about Eck, Boab and Soapy, I ask.  “and PC Murdoch”?

“Murdoch!” he laughs, “I could tell you a few tales about him, all right!  I hope you were never taken in by his avuncular – what’s the word we used to use? – couthiness!  Bent as a bloody trombone that one.  It was his partner Trevor I used to feel sorry for.  Old Trev would sit up waiting for him ’til the early hours while the bold boy was out trawling round the gay bars, picking up every bit of rough that took his fancy. I used to tell him that he was being unfair to Trevor, but he just used to laugh.  ‘Ooh, you’re so masterful when you’re angry, dear heart’ he used to say.

“At least old Trev did all right when Murdoch passed on.  Left him everything in his will and he bought a nice little bungalow out at Brought Ferry.  Lives there with his cats.  I still visit him occasionally when I’m in the country”.

“But the others”, I remind him, “Boab and Soapy and …”

“Sure”, he says, “I still see them from time to time although, admittedly, not so much now.  You wouldn’t recognise Boab these days”, he sighs, “He’s almost anorexic, went on some fancy diet and the pounds just dropped off.  Doing well for himself too.  Has his own business, a big house and nine grandchildren.

“Wee Eck’s another story altogether”, a pained expression appears on his face, “he was the unlucky one.  I managed to kick the drugs and the booze, but Eck…”, he shakes his head.

“..and what about Soapy?”, I ask.

He brightens, “Ah Soapy, he was the luckiest of them all.  Stayed on at school, went on to university, then changed his name and went into politics.  Did very well too”.

I ask him what Soapy’s name is now.

“Ah“, he says, tapping the side of his nose knowingly, “that would be telling.  Let’s just say he‘s working in Edinburgh now and you‘d know his name if I told you”.

“So everything worked out OK in the end?”, I ask.

“Oh, yes, everything worked out in the end”, he says.

As I slip the car into gear and start to head out of Dundee on my journey home, I suddenly realise that I’ve just been in the company of one of Scotland’s national treasures and not only have I survived it but I’ve enjoyed every minute and found it a strangely humbling experience.

Aug 062010
 

“If someone had brought beer round, it would have been just like sitting in the pub discussing the Dons” – Voice’s David Innes calls in from Pittodrie

This was bordering on the perfect evening for Dons fans. A slab of primal club history from AFC Heritage Trust’s new publication charting the Dons’ early struggles in the Scottish Qualifying Cup; the narration of an entertaining passage by its creator Chris Gavin; reminiscences of more recent success with the launch of Stuart Donald’s On Fire With Fergie (review next week), again enhanced by the author’s reading of impressive episodes, and a relaxed chat with the immortal John Hewitt. Continue reading »