Flower of Scotland anthem ‘will never be replaced’

IT has been the rallying cry for Scotland’s international football and rugby teams for decades - but has never been adopted as an official anthem.

Ronnie Browne sings Flower of Scotland in 2010. He has vowed never to perform the song again because the thought of his late wife makes him too emotional. Picture: Robert Perry

Now the singer who will forever be associated with “Flower of Scotland” has insisted it will never be toppled as the nation’s favourite song - even though he has vowed never to perform it again.

Appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Ronnie Browne said it had proved to be far more popular than anything written by Robert Burns.

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His Corries bandmate, the late Roy Williamson, penned Flower of Scotland - which refers to the Battle of Bannockburn - in 1967 and it quickly became a highlight of their concerts.

Last year nearly 56 per cent of those who took part in a Tartan Army poll commissioned by the Scottish Football Association voted in favour of the song finally winning official recognition from the Scottish Government.

Ministers believe there is not enough wider public support for such a move, as it is not willing to give Williamson’s song official status at the “exclusion of all others.”

Browne, 77, said it was “idiotic” for politicians to suggest having a competition to find a new anthem, because the Corries classic had repeatedly topped opinion polls and was known the world over.

Browne said: “What song in the world from Scotland is better known? People talk about Burns songs and so on. They’ve been around for two or three centuries. Have people cottoned on to them? No they haven’t. Flower of Scotland is everywhere. I’ve been right around the world and that’s the one they always want.

“Someone wanted to make it official. The (Scottish) Government said no. That’s fair enough. But then someone sitting on a committee said: ‘Let’s have a competition for an anthem.’ You’re joking! There was a national poll in 1990 which saw Flower of Scotlsand come out a third ahead of anything else.”

Browne, who retired from live concerts a decade ago, was asked to regular appearances at Hampden and Murrayfield to rally the crowds before crunch international matches. But he said he did not want people to seem him slip into decline.

However he insisted he would not be persuaded to attempt to perform the song again after struggling to get through a rendition for Team Scotland’s athletes at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last summer.

Browne, who lost his wife Pat three years ago, said he found it too emotional to sing Flower of Scotland, saying his mind was made up as he struggled with a performance before the Commonwealth Games athletes. Browne said it was then that his mind was made up then never to perform it again.

Browne told his festival audience: “All these years I have been performing I have been able to harness emotion. I cannot do it now because I start crying. Maybe it’s because Pat died and I am wee bit more sentimental.

“I keep saying that there are people who should stop before they get too old. I’m in that league now. I would rather keep my reputation rather than be told: ‘He’s past it.’

“I made an exception for the Commonwealth Games. Would you not? But that was what convinced me. When I was standing there I started to cry. It took a great will of effort to get to the end of the song. People don’t pay money or watch television to see old men cry, so I’m not going to do it again.”