“THE best yet” was the unanimous verdict on Celtic great Murdo McLeod’s speech at last Friday night’s Hawick Shamrock Celtic Supporters’ Club annual dinner.
And also worthy of such unequivocal praise is the club’s hard-working committee, led by president Ian Watson, for organising what was yet another memorable evening for the 180 Celtic fans whose steadfast support for the Glasgow giants ensured the event was a sell-out weeks in advance of the big night.
President Ian told the Hawick News: “The club is on the up and up and tonight just goes to show how far we’ve come in the last decade. What a turnout and what a speaker we had in Murdo McLeod. The best yet.”
The legions of Hoops-daft supporters had turned the town hall into a sea of green and white, while draped from the balcony above were massive banners depicting the Hoops’ greatest ever goalscorer Jimmy McGrory, current manager Neil Lennon and one which simply stated ‘We shall not be moved’, in reference to the club’s current position as league leaders and the country’s in-form team.
SPL leaders they certainly are, but regardless of their position in the league, last Friday night was always going to be something special. And as well as a night of celebration and camaraderie, there was also a moment for reflection during a minute’s applause for Shamrock stalwart Keith Richardson. ‘Boff’, as he was known to all, was a regular at Celtic Park for many years before his sudden death in December. And the lively but respectful bout of clapping was a fitting tribute to a true Celt.
Once again the club had pulled off a major coup in securing a chief guest of the highest calibre in Murdo McLeod. And the former Celtic midfielder, who turned out 281 times for the club between 1978 and 1987, has swapped his wonderful knack of scoring important goals for the Hoops for a wonderful repertoire of hilarious after-dinner anecdotes.
Kicking off with the surprise news he was to be transferred from Dumbarton to Celtic, Murdo had the company in stitches when he recalled his hopes of a bumper pay day being dashed by the then manager Billy McNeil, whose offer of a £1,000 signing-on fee and £150 a week fell some way short of Murdo’s aspirations of a £20,000 signing-on fee and £1,000 a week!
Continuing with several more side-splitting stories, Murdo had a little fun at the expense of ex-Celtic and Bayern Munich star Alan McInally and in particular his inability to learn German while he and Murdo, then of Borussia Dortrmund, plyed their trade in the Bundesliga.
Murdo then raised the roof with a comical impersonation of former team-mate Danny McGrain and his barely coherent after-match speech following a European tie in Albania. It was all good fun. But putting his humour to one side for a moment, Murdo paid tribute to the Shamrock’s loyal band of fans, the biggest Celtic supporters’ club outside Glasgow, and said they were a credit to Celtic and themselves.
Murdo earned a standing ovation for his efforts, and his appearance was then superbly complemented by The Irish Rovers, whose rousing performance of Celtic favourites hit all the right notes.
Earlier in the evening, the company had enjoyed a top-notch meal by Brydon’s Bakery Restaurant, and were kept suitably refreshed throughout the night by Hawick YM RFC’s outside bar service.
Shamrock secretary Scott Richardson said: “The catering and bar facilities were spot-on, and the club would also like to thank sponsors Nike, Nicola Borthwick Massage and Sports Therapy, Hawick Knitwear, Brydon’s Bakery Restaurant and Richardson & Son Printers, all of whom helped make the night such a huge success.”
Such success has become Hawick Shamrock’s trademark, and with the club, and the team, flying high, the future certainly looks bright, or should that be green and white?