PAUL Lawrie shouted himself hoarse as Aberdeen ended their 19-year trophy drought by winning the League Cup at Celtic Park on Sunday.
He’s even played his part in the remarkable rise up the charts of the Human League’s iconic 1981 tune Don’t You Want Me after it was adopted by the Red Army in tribute to Pittodrie midfielder Peter Pawlett. Now Lawrie can’t wait for the next football chat with his fellow Scots on the European Tour as he’ll be the one holding the bragging rights.
“It’s massive,” said the 45-year-old of the win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle. “I’ve been getting stick for quite a while now from the rest of the Scottish boys out on Tour as there’s a lot of banter among the boys about football on a Saturday. So it’s nice that at the next tournament I’ll not be the one getting the stick!”
So far, neither Celtic fans Stephen Gallacher and Sam Torrance nor Rangers supporters Alastair Forsyth and Marc Warren have been in touch to offer their congratulations. “None of them – Sam, Stevie or Alastair – text me to say ‘well done’ – strange that, eh!”
The 1999 Open champion decided to miss the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco to be at Sunday’s game along with his wife, Marian, and their two teenage sons, Craig and Michael. With the other 42,000 Aberdeen fans who descended on Glasgow, it’s a day he’ll cherish for the rest of his life.
“It was a poor game but the result was fantastic,” he declared. “I’d lost my voice halfway through the second half with all the shouting I was doing from the North Stand. It was great for the city with 42,000 spectators there. It shows the people are dying to come back and watch the team. It’s been a long time since we won a trophy and I hope it’s the first of many.
“Being a supporter since I was knee high, it was great to see them win something again. When Adam Rooney’s penalty went in, we were all jumping up and down. I was up out of my seat, just like everyone else was. I was extremely happy.”
As happy, in fact, as he has ever felt winning a golf tournament – with one notable exception. “I get as much joy out of boys like [Paul Lawrie Golf Centre players] David Law and Philip McLean doing well as I do from myself doing well,” he admitted at the launch of The Archie Foundation as the official charity for this summer’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen. “And, having been a huge supporter of the football club for a long time, Sunday was definitely on a par with winning a trophy – but not The Open!”
Lawrie was delighted for Stewart Milne, a staunch supporter of his Foundation in the North-East, and said the Aberdeen chairman had provoked an outburst of laughter in his group of fans when he let slip an unlikely profanity during a radio interview after the match. “We were on the bus going away from the ground and we all just burst out laughing,” he added. “I’ve never heard him swear in all the years I’ve known him – he’s not that kind of man. I don’t know exactly how much he’s put into the club over the years, but the time alone must be considerable, and I think everyone connected with the club is chuffed to bits for him.”
Lawrie sent texts to offer his congratulations to Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, and club captain Russell Anderson, whose smile was as wide as Union Street when he picked up the silverware.
“It was fantastic to see him with the trophy because he’s been through the good and the bad. I sent him a wee note and McInnes a wee text and I got nice replies from them both. Derek texts me when I do well and it’s nice.”
The trophy is being paraded through the streets of Aberdeen on Sunday and Lawrie will be dashing home from East Lothian, where youngest son Michael is playing at Archerfield on Saturday, to savour the occasion.
“I don’t see why it can’t be the start of better times for the club,” he added. “Derek McInnes and his assistant [Tony Docherty] have signed a two-year extension and I think it was important to show that commitment to get the players to sign on. Add a couple of players in the summer and I don’t see why they can’t kick on. I just hope they don’t think they’re the greatest all of a sudden, but they’re unbelievably better than they were. The manager’s done a hell of a job.”
So, too, have the fans in getting the Human League – chants of “Peter Pawlett Baby” rang around Parkhead – into the top ten. “I think it’s up to No 4 now, which is amazing,” noted Lawrie. “Me and the boys were on iTunes last night buying downloads. I don’t remember it first time around – it was before my time!”
Aberdeen, of course, are still in with a chance of a cup double, with St Johnstone standing between them and a place in the Scottish Cup final. It will be played on 17 May – the same weekend of the Spanish Open. “We’ll just need to wait and see,” said Lawrie of whether he intended pulling on the club colours again if Aberdeen made it there, too. “But now we’ve won a cup, I can probably miss the next one,” he chuckled.
Nagging injury proves a big pain in the neck
Paul Lawrie paid a visit to the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital to launch the official charity for this summer’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen.
He could soon be needing attention himself at the adult equivalent in the Granite City if the ageing process continues to wreak havoc on his body.
“I’ve been struggling with my neck,” reported the 1999 Open champion, whose last competitive outing was the Dubai Desert Classic, six weeks ago.
Having slipped out of the world’s top 50, he didn’t qualify for the opening two WGC events of the season. That was a disappointment, but he’d have struggled to do himself justice in either Arizona or Florida.
“Even if I wanted to play I probably couldn’t have played more than one event since Dubai – I’ve not been fit,” added Lawrie.
“I played last week [in the first round of the North East Alliance Championship at Buckpool, where he shot five-under with just eight clubs in the bag] and it was fine.
“But I played this morning [in the second round of that event at Portlethen, where he shot three over] and it wasn’t good at all. I really struggled. I was making half-swings on the back nine and nearly walked in.”
Lawrie’s next scheduled event is the Malaysian Open starting on 17 April. By then, he’ll not have played competitively at the top level for close to three months.
“I don’t play much this time of year, generally, though the last couple of years I’ve been in all the World Golf events and the majors,” he said.
“But it’ll be 11 weeks by the time I play again, which is a long time. I’d like to get going again, but it’s been pretty frustrating due to my neck.”