CHRIS Paterson admitted that being recognised in the New Year Honours List with an MBE to be “a wee bit strange”, but Scotland’s record cap-holder was as delighted as he was surprised.
The 33-year-old from Galashiels announced his retirement from international rugby just before Christmas, having become the first Scot to play in four Rugby World Cup tournaments. He will continue to play for Edinburgh at least until the end of this season, though is being rested from the side for tomorrow’s 1872 Cup match with Glasgow. But after many tributes following his decision to retire, HM The Queen has officially added her weight by making Paterson a Member of the British Empire.
Paterson said: “I’ve only ever focused on playing well and doing the supporters, myself and my family proud. To be even nominated for this honour, I would never have imagined. To be recognised in this way for doing something you love to do is a wee bit strange, but it’ll be a nice reminder of what I’ve achieved in both club and international rugby.”
Paterson made his Scotland debut against Spain in the 1999 World Cup, just months after leading Gala to a league and cup double and signing professional forms with Edinburgh.
He has come back from a number of serious injuries, notably a triple fracture of his cheekbone and eye socket, torn kidney and groin and hip problems. Though admitting he cannot remember the last day he did not feel pain, he has earned 109 caps, held the title of the world’s leading goal-kicker and remained one of Scotland’s most consistent and competitive performers.
He added: “There are so many who have helped with my career, all the way back to Galashiels Academy. Gary Parker and Garry Callander at Gala, Ian McGeechan, Jim Telfer, Frank Hadden, Mick Byrne and all the current Scotland coaching team, and through school rugby and my professional career Rob Moffat was a great mentor and inspiration. I’ve been fortunate to play with so many great players and I’ll never ever forget the cheers of those Murrayfield crowds.”
Another familiar face from the Six Nations in recent years, 99-times capped Welshman Martyn Williams, was also named an MBE. The 36-year-old Cardiff Blues star, one of the finest openside flankers of his generation, enjoyed a stellar 15-year international career in which he has also toured with the British and Irish Lions three times.
Denise Jackson receives the MBE for services to Scottish gymnastics, while golf major winners Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy were among other sportsmen and women recognised. Clarke, 43, receives an OBE five months after he won the Open Championship at Sandwich, while fellow Northern Irishman McIlroy is awarded an MBE.
There was a knighthood for former Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis, who turns 88 on 3 January and is recognised for his charity work. England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke receives a CBE.