On the 8th February 2013 I was taken into A&E to be eventually diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.On the 8th February 2014, exactly one year to the day, I was treated to one of the best days of my life.
A surprise of epic proportion awaited me at Braidholm. Little did I know that months of planning had gone into organising a surprise testimonial/revival match for me! As if it wasn’t enough that folk asked after me, and passed on well wishes and thoughts throughout my treatment, they did this for me too. I was lured to the club with the pretence of a flat tyre needing sorted, on my arrival I was escorted into the dressing room corridor, which was lined on both sides with applauding cheering players, past, present and future Gazelles.I cried a flood of tears as I passed through this throng of rugby brotherhood, I don’t mind admitting.
As I reached the end of the corridor I was told “Get stripped, yer playin”
Call it euphoria, madness, or just the fact that aw ma pals were playing, I didn’t hesitate. Heading into the dressing room I thought “Haud oan, I’ve got nae gear.”
Jamie (my son) said “I’ve got kit for you”
I’m getting ready and ask, “Have you got a jersey for me?”
He hands me the No.4…..burst oot greetin’ again.
My next words are “Whit aboot boots?”
A big smile from Jamie “Oh, I’ve got them for you too”
He produces a pair of red, white and blue Adidas Predators with, wait for it BOB AULD and 08.02.2014 sewn into the right boot and OLDIES V YOUNGIES sewn into the left boot. Cue the waterworks…again!! Boots courtesy of Ruaridh Jackson of the Glasgow Warriors, more of which later.
A guard of honour applaud me onto the Briadholm turf, merr greetin!!!
You step out there and your mind is twenty years younger, pity nothing else is. Never thought I’d be back on the hallowed turf in a playing (I use the term loosely) capacity. First XV coach Stuart Lang was down looking for some depth within the club, there was plenty of girth, but very little depth. It was wonderful to play alongside so many of my old friends, and so many of the guys I had coached especially, the Castlemilk boys, and it was a huge privilege to play in the same team as my son. There were four Father and son combinations on the park and an additional Father, son and daughter combo too.
I would like to take this chance to say thanks to everyone at GHA who supported me throughout my treatment.
It was nice to be at the club on game days and have folk ask how I was, whilst others would give a knowing nod, and friends would joke about me being bald, skinny, etc. It made me feel wanted and loved.
It is also nice to know that Jamie was offered support from his team-mates and coaches during this time too.
I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the organisation of that special day, from organising, strips, teams, officials, e-mailing old friends, food and so on.
Thanks to the club for providing the facilities.
A special thanks to Gordon Rennie(strength and conditioning coach with Glasgow Warriors) who sorted out those boots. It seems he had asked Al Kellock for a pair of used boots, Al asks “What for?”, Gordon explained, and Al said “no, you don’t get second hand boots for that, let’s talk to Ruaridh.” Ruaridh Jackson has a contract with Adidas and arranged to get the boots made up for me.
Thanks to my wife Eileen and Son Jamie for getting the ball rolling on the surprise celebration, and thanks to Gavin, Brian and Peter for the leg work in getting it organised.
It is incredible to be part of such a wonderful Rugby Family.
With many thanks from the bottom of my heart.
“I’m a millionaire”
p.s. That tyre still isn’t fixed