I was sad to read that my boyhood football idol Hughie Gallacher has passed away. Bill Heaney’s lovely obituary (25 June) revealed what a player and man he was.
As a primary schoolboy, I attended many of the great matches Heaney mentioned.
I’d wait next to the tunnel to pat the back of Hughie’s strip on his way out – it was like touching a God and the smell of Wintergreen oil stays with me yet – before taking my place behind the goal at “Fatal Boagheid” (of course, the “t” in Fatal was only a glottal stop to us).
Piping hot mutton pie leaking through your fingers at halftime, washed down by a Bovril.
Ninepence to get in unless you got an adult to lift you over the turnstile, wearing the black and yellow scarf your mother had knitted with the names of the players on it.
I once saw Hughie score with an overhead kick ten yards from the corner flag. Odd to see on the Dumbarton FC website that he’s not even listed among the fans’ ten best players of all time. The auld fans must a’ be deid.
As Heaney wrote, Hughie was a gentle soul. Even after he was a local hero, he’d regularly visit my grannie Rodger in Bonhill, near his own birthplace, and a photo of him and me, next to a World War Two-era wireless, is a treasure to me.
Rest in peace, my fellow Son of the Rock.
Richmond upon Thames