Howard Haslett at Memories Club

Memories Club – Howard Haslett

Monday 30 October 2018

Report by Hamish McIntyre

Howard Haslett the guest speaker at the monthly meeting held in the rugby club was introduced by Mike Wheatley. There were 50 LOSS members present – Linlithgow Old Sods Society, aka the Memories Group. Mike told us that Howard was born in 1944 in Belfast, went to school at the Royal Belfast Academical Instution, and furthered his studies first at Trinity College, Dublin – BA in English and French and then at Edinburgh University – Batchelor of Divinity.

Howard started his working life as Assistant Minister at St Giles, then took up a post as Chaplain and Head of Religious Studies at Edinburgh Academy where he taught RE to the “cream of Scotland – rich and thick”, then went on to be Parish Minister at Traprain Church of Scotland which he describes as the happiest days of his life. Now retired he lives in Haddington in the winter and France in the summer, although he is still available for weddings which are always good fun, and funerals which are inevitable occasions, but conducting either is a special privalege. After dinner speaking continues to be his major activity.

His opening gambit was ‘Aftert that introduction I can’t wait to hear what I have to say’. He regaled us with rugby stories, Willie John McBride and Fergus Stattery duetting on ‘The Fields of Atherry’, Fraser Morrison a well kent face at LRFC, and refereeing at Sandy Gardiner’s cow patch at Springfield Farm.

Howard saw his first international in 1964, he remembers Ulster versus New Zealand where the score was 5 – 5, and another match at Ravenshill – Ireland 6 Scotland 0. On football Howard went to see Partick Thistle and, arriving late was greeted by a big cheer. What is the cheer about? Has someone scored? No, the pies had arrived!

One very elegant front row player was bragging about a try saving tackle he had made, when one of his colleagues intervened ‘served you a lot better if you had hooked the ball in the first place’.

He was very friendly with Gordon Brown – Broon frae Troon – and Gordon had told the story that when he and Howard were small boys they had both dreamed of being Lions. “I got my wish to be a Lion” he said “and Howard became a Christian”! Before he died, Gordon gave Howard a pair of cuff links with the engraving- ‘friendship is not a big thing, it is a million small things’.

His closing note was, we would love our team to win the World Cup, but these thoughts will pass, but the love of rugby will not pass. After tea and coffee there was time for questions and the morning concluded with a round of applause for Howard. Bert Lawson closed the meeting by thanking Howard for some excellent entertainment, the ladies for providing the tea and cakes, and a very attentive audience.

Remember we play walking rugby on the second Monday of the month – come and join us on Monday 12th November at 10-30am in the Indoor Training Centre.

Hamish McIntyre