Saturday, December 28, 2019

Uncle Billy my footy buddy

Uncle Billy front right. Next to his mum and dad, Bill & Mary, and his brothers and sisters Gibby, Christine, my mum Elsie, Joan & Mary

On Saturday 21st December I received a message that my Uncle Billy had passed away at the age of 80.

I left home in 1982 for college at the age of 19 and have only paid short visits back home since so have not regularly kept in touch with my extended family. But growing up, Billy and I shared a great love - Aberdeen FC.

It started in 1975 when he took me to my first match at Pittodrie. Accompanied by his dad & my didie, also called Bill, we set off on the 40-mile journey to Aberdeen. As was to become part of so many of our trips we were dropped off at the bottom of Pittodrie Street by my Auntie Margaret and we headed off for a pie and our seats in the main stand.

Two-nil down at half-time with a certain Joe Harper anonymous, it didn't look like the Dons and I were going to get off to a great start. But King Joey turned up in the second act, scoring a hattrick and we headed home smiling from ear to ear. Sadly it was the only game we attended with my Didie Bill, whom both me and my uncle are named after, as illness restricted his movements till he passed away in 1976.

Over the next 8 years, we crisscrossed Scotland each Saturday, often going far too fast in Billy's 3 litre Capri Ghia, watching our beloved team. Those years coincided with what was probably the most successful in Aberdeen's history. Our first trophy win at Hampden under Super Ally. The near misses under McNeil and then the golden era of Fergie. The league at Easter Road and Scottish Cup glory with the smiling Tattie! But, even through those never to be repeated heady days, we were often known to get back to the waiting car, only to throw our scarfs in the boot with disgust and say that is it, we are never going back! (Usually against Morton and Andy Ritchie:(( )

Back then Billy smoked a lot and often said that because of those long car journies even though id never touched a cigarette in my life I had smoked hundreds.

(I will come back to cigarettes in my next post about him.)

The memories come flying back, stamping our feet on the old wooden stand in Hampden as we closed in on the league cup. Aberdeen - stomp - stomp - stomp. Bent over a radio at Easter Road praying that the ref would blow his whistle in Celtic match. Rushing to the car to hear sportsreport. Stopping in Perth on the way back from Glasgow for chips. Watching McLeish of all people curl a shot into the top corner of Ranger net at the final like he was Jairzinho. My constant companion was Uncle Billy.

Thanks, Uncle Billy


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