THE arrival of an Army Land Rover in Selkirk’s Craig Brown Avenue in 1959 was such an unexpected occurrence that a group of schoolboys playing football nearby stopped their game.
‘I wonder who that’s for?’ asked one of the youngsters. ‘That’ll be for me,’ replied one of their number, a lanky teenager called Angus Boag.
Unbeknown to everyone, including his father and mother, Boag had applied to join the Army after seeing a recruitment advert in a magazine, thereby explaining the military vehicle’s presence outside his parents’ home.
This episode marked the start of Boag’s highly successful 42-year career in the Army, which would see him take up postings all over the world, including Germany, Cyprus, Libya, Singapore, the Falklands and Norway.
Angus William Boag, known to everyone as “Gus”, was born in Edinburgh in 1944, the only child of Charlie and Sheila Boag. His father worked as a sales representative for the Edinburgh brewers William Younger & Co. Ltd, responsible for covering the Borders area.
The family moved to Selkirk in 1951, where seven-year-old Angus attended Knowepark Primary and Selkirk High School, leaving the latter aged 15 after signing his Army papers.
Lifelong Selkirk friend Sandy Smith says it was apparent from their childhood days Angus Boag was destined to be a leader of men. “He captained every side we ever played in, and you instinctively knew he’d always look after his teammates and pals.
“If you ever needed help, you could guarantee Gus would go out of his way to offer any assistance he could. He was tremendously loyal, had a wonderful sense of humour, and made a special point of keeping up with all his old Selkirk friends.”
Boag’s “boys’ service” training was carried out with the All Arms Junior Leaders Regiment at Tonfanau, in North Wales. This was followed by his “man service” training for the Royal Corps of Signals at Catterick, after which he joined 22 Signal Regiment. Postings to Lippstadt and Cyprus followed, with Boag soon promoted to Detachment Commander. By the end of his military career he had risen to the rank of Major, and for the final two years of his service held a military liaison role within a civil service department in Glasgow.
He met his wife Freda at a mess function while working at the Army Apprentices College in Harrogate. The couple were married in Freda’s home city of Glasgow in 1972, with daughter Kirsty being born later that year and son Cameron in 1976.
He enjoyed a variety of sports and outdoor pursuits throughout his life, including football, swimming, canoeing, ski-ing and hill-walking, and was a passionate supporter of Rangers FC.
Retiring to Selkirk in 2001, Boag joined the Berwick branch of the Royal Signals Association, becoming its chairman and faithfully supporting all of its activities.
He also offered his services to Selkirk Rugby Club, whose Philiphaugh ground lay just a few hundred yards from his home. He served as the club’s secretary from 2001-2004, played a leading role in setting up Selkirk RFC’s first club shop, and was appointed Selkirk’s president in July of this year.
He was a highly popular figure at Philiphaugh, always accompanied on his visits to the ground by his faithful West Highland terrier Ruby, the pair being inseparable.
“Gus was one of the club’s hardest and most conscientious workers,” said Selkirk RFC chairman Dennis Henderson. “He was always ready to lend a hand, give a word of encouragement to players and wherever he went proved a great ambassador for the club.”
Messages of sympathy have been received from across the rugby spectrum. Rory Bannerman, president of Hawick Rugby Club (Selkirk’s opponents on the day Angus Boag died), said: “Gus was just himself on Saturday – kind, generous, gentlemanly, magnanimous and humorous. He was a model president to us all – a gentleman, a Souter. He will be a huge miss.”
He is survived by Freda, Kirsty and Cameron, their partners Gareth and Lorna, and by grandchildren Charlie, Sorcha and Jasmine.
A minute’s silence will be held in his memory prior to this weekend’s Tennent’s Premiership fixture between Selkirk and Currie at Philiphaugh.