Allan Cameron

Rugby internationalist and company director

Born: 4 March, 1924, in Glasgow.

Died: 15 October, 2009, in Glasgow, aged 85.

ALLAN Cameron was known by his rugby teammates at Hillhead High School, Hillhead RFC and Scotland, and by golfers at the Buchanan Castle club, as a hugely dedicated, if often unorthodox performer in sport. Once he grasped the challenge of finding gaps, creating tries, managing tortuous fairways or landing a fish, he would set his mind to mastering them with real aplomb.

Born in Glasgow in 1924, Allan Douglas Cameron came through Hillhead primary and high schools as a good scholar without attracting headlines, and joined the RAF after the Second World War had broken out. He spent a year in South Africa, where his service was combined with finding a game of rugby whenever possible.

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He had wanted to be a chartered accountant, and on return to Glasgow, he joined Gillespie and Anderson in Bath Street. But he did not take to it, and moved on to a position with Robin Ramsay & Co, hide and skin brokers, in Greendykes Street, where he worked until he retired in 1994.

Cameron was successful there, starting off in the hide department, buying from farmers and selling, but moving up to become a company director and spending time auctioneering for the wool board.

His rugby career, however, brought him wider recognition across Scotland and further afield. Having stood out in a good Hillhead HSFPs side in the late 1940 and early 1950s, he made his international debut on the wing against France at Stade Colombes in 1951, as one of nine new caps and an entirely new three-quarter line.

It was a match Scotland were unlucky to lose as they led 12-11 heading into the closing minutes, but a late penalty snatched victory from the Scots.

There was a tradition at the time of players throwing the match ball up and vying for it, and Cameron grasped the ball from his debut game and proudly took it home. However, he told the story of how he opened the front door to his house and threw the ball in, only to see the crestfallen looks on the faces of his mother and sister, who told him his father, also Allan Douglas, had died suddenly, aged just 51, only a few hours before he arrived home .

In a time of turmoil – the Scotland selectors fielded 39 new caps from 1951-55 – Cameron did not take the field for Scotland again until 1954, when he was selected to face France again, this time at Murrayfield. Cameron was picked in the centre, but again was on the wrong end of a narrow defeat (3-0). He won a third and final cap, also at centre, in the April 1954 defeat to Wales, the game having been postponed from January of that year due to frost.

Though he trained religiously, Cameron was considered a natural ball player. He was never a footballer, but had a reputation as a skilful kicker. Former teammates also remember him as very quick, with an ability to change pace and find an extra gear almost at the flick of a switch.

He was quite an individual on the field and once, stretching for an interception pass, headed the ball forward, knowing, unlike his teammates, that a headed ball was not a knock-on.

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In recent times, Cameron admitted he was concerned about the increasing size of rugby players, comparing his own 14 stones, 5ft 11in frame to that of modern-day centres up to three stones heavier and wondering where players of his ilk might find a place these days.

But he had long since turned to golf and fishing. His rugby career was winding down when, in 1957, he met Jean Brown, a welfare officer with the Gourock Ropework Company at New Lanark. The couple married in 1960 and had two daughters, Katharine in December 1961 and Fiona in the same month five years later.

Cameron continued his interest in rugby as a selector with the Glasgow district committee and he became a firm supporter of his girls' sporting interests, encouraging them to apply themselves in sport and work, an attitude he continued to instil in his five grandchildren, Emma, Angus, Erin, Becky and Finlay.

His own desire for sport never waned, from playing off a handicap of five at one stage at Buchanan Castle and captaining the club in 1973, and being a member of Glasgow Golf Club, to latterly spending hours fishing on the Lake of Menteith or River Earn, often with Ian Ross, a fellow former Hillhead and Scotland scrum-half.

An honest man who never suffered fools gladly, "Cammy" was a great support and help to many people. Though he had suffered illness in recent times, his sudden death at Gartnavel General Hospital on 15 October came as a shock to his family and friends. However, the life he fulfilled, spanning more than 85 years, has left a legacy of which the Cameron family can be proud.