On my way home tonight, I will be calling in on my older brother, the undisputed doyen of Scottish football journalism. The reason for my visit will be to bring a gift and a couple of cards from myself and our younger brother to mark his, and his beloved’s, Golden Wedding
Anniversary, which they will celebrate this coming Saturday, 14th August. I remember the day well. The Nuptial Mass took place in St. Laurence’s in Drumchapel, and I was the best man. I was playing in a Folk Group at the time and I had the most horrendous long hair with a straggly beard that was shaved away at the chin. I had hoped that by now those photographs would have long since been destroyed, but I think my sister-in-law deliberately keeps them so as to embarrass me by showing them to anyone who comes to the house, and who didn’t know me in my younger, wilder days.
You will forgive me, given the occasion, for making this week’s Log partly about football. Hugh had started his journalistic career about a year previously but, inadvertently, had booked the wedding for the first day of the 1971/72 Scottish football season, a day when Celtic were due to meet Rangers in the opening round of the League Cup. The game should have been at Celtic Park, but because the main stand at Celtic Park was being re-built, it ended up being played at Ibrox as Rangers objected to Hampden. Regardless, Celtic won 2-0. “Jinky” Johnstone scored the first goal, and then big “Yogi” Hughes was pulled down for a penalty. The captain, Big Billy “Caesar” McNeill, who had kindly given Hugh his first big, major interview just days after he started work, and who remained very friendly towards him, called on a young striker, making his debut in a big game for the first team, to step up to take the penalty. His name was Kenny Dalglish. Kenny stooped down to tie his boot lace, placed the ball on the spot, then calmly placed it past the Rangers goalie, Peter McCloy. What a day to have booked your wedding?
I remember that, when the Nuptial Mass was over, and we were due to go into the Sacristy to sign the register, Hugh went missing. He was, of course, trying to find out what the score was at Ibrox. This was pre-mobile phone days, and so, he was depending on someone having a transistor radio somewhere on their possession. There were probably about 20 of our family members and friends who had transistor radios on that day, and so he eventually appeared for the signing with a big smile on his face. The wedding reception took place in a function suite in Clydebank. After I had performed my best man duties by reading out the telegrams and making some kind of a speech, I handed over to the man himself to make his groom’s speech. He began by saying that this was one of the happiest days of his life – because Celtic had beaten Ranger 2-0. His tongue was in his cheek, of course (well, mostly), but, in reality, it wasn’t just one of, but the happiest day of his life. They have been truly devoted to each other ever since and have been an inspiration to their son, two daughters, four grandsons, and two granddaughters, even though they affectionately call Hugh, Victor Meldrew, or Mister Grumpy, and know that Janet has been the rock in his, and all of their lives. Hugh may not be the flavour of the month with the Celtic support at present, because he has been a bit “Mister Grumpy” with regard to Celtic’s prospects for this season, perhaps saying things that a lot of supporters themselves feared inside, but he and his good lady are very deserving of a good celebration to mark this landmark achievement. So, well done, and congratulations!
Meanwhile, out at Bishopbriggs, we are all doing well. Father Antony is easing into life as a consultor, having to go backwards and forwards to Dublin for meetings, as part of the process of discernment for making appointments. The rest of us just continue on as normal, make our own contribution to the process, and await the outcome, which will probably take until mid to late September. It’s all in God’s hands and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So, as ever,
protect yourselves, protect your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.