"I remember the first time I met Rab. It was Sunday 30th April 1989 and we had just beaten Raith Rovers 2-1 in the Supporters League Cup Semi Final at Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy. Our plan that day had been to man mark the Raith danger man and our plan worked as Rab, for it was him, only got one sniff at goal and he shot wide.
As usual the teams went back for hospitality and, as usual, both teams sat in separate corners of the pub. All bar Rab though who was in the middle of the room playing the fruit machine. As it was my job to socialise with the opposition I started up a conversation with Rab and it was the best thing I could ever do.
We immediately clicked and I discovered that Rab would be coming to work in Glasgow (his job was working in a lab that tested new road surfaces) and wouldn’t mind joining in with our “training sessions”. Arrangements would be made in July when Raith came to Glasgow for the Hampden Trophy. So began a long and enjoyable friendship.
Of course, once Rab came to Glasgow we couldn’t get rid of him ! The “training sessions” became “quiz" or "drinking sessions” and he was spending less time with the Raith team and more time with us. In those days Raith were a team we always got the better of but Rab was neither up nor down after a game and cared little for the in depth analysis that Rovers did when things went against them, it was only a game after all.
Rab finally made his debut for us in September 1990 in Merthyr Tydfil and fully enjoyed his weekend away. He also introduced us to the “Geordie Munro” song, all verses, and so we used our imagination and “Geordie Rab” was born !
At the start of 91/92 season work was still keeping him in Glasgow and he was lodging with various people including my parents in Toryglen and Alan “Tubsy” Raeburn. He was also playing on a regular basis in the team and scoring a few goals.
Work took him back to Fife but we still saw him when we played a couple of friendlies against East Fife and he then travelled to London with us for the CHAOS Cup in 1992.
Rab never seemed to stay in the one place for long though and he ended up working on a new road in Johnstone so “Johnstone Burgh” appeared at our end of season tournament, the Queen’s Park Sixes. He stayed in Johnstone for a while and made the odd journey to Glasgow for an evening of catching up.
Rab’s next move was to a place called Duror where, again, a new road surface was being laid. Having nowhere to stay I put him in touch with my brother Donald at the Duror Hotel and he stayed in his chalet which benefitted both of them. Rab got a roof over his head and Donald got rent money and company at the bar each evening !
It was in Duror one Halloween evening that he met his future wife Lorna who was working behind the bar for the first time that night. Love blossomed and they married in 1995 with the meal being held in the Duror Hotel, an irony which wasn’t lost on Rab as there was a MacDonald wedding in a Campbell hotel !
It was also in 1995 that his daughter Aimie was born and this also coincided with our first game against his new village team Appin at North Connel and we won 5-0 ! To date it’s our only win in the Oban area but then again Rab was missing as he was in Glasgow with Lorna and their new baby.
I continued to see Rab and Lorna as they settled into married life in Appin, the village my mother was born in, and their son Ross was born a couple of years after Aimie.
Rab still attended the Sixes with a variety of teams and he would happily have played for any team that were ever short of players.
Rab had started a career in the fish farming industry and he created a Scottish Sea Farmers football team and we were lucky enough to be invited to a charity fives which he had arranged in Oban. This was also a chance to catch up with John Scott and meet the Coasters boys for the first time.
Eleven a sides followed and we started an end of season game in Oban in 2002 with a defeat to the Sea Famers before they came to the Sixes the next month. The team changed its name to Appin and they made their first trip to Glasgow in October 2004 in a team that included members of Rab’s newly discovered family from Glasgow.
I’ll never forget the night Rab phoned me after he had discovered that his father (who had separated from Rab’s mother when Rab was only young) had another family and he now had a sister, two more brothers and more nieces and nephews. He was as high as a kite with anticipation of meeting them. He had met them by the time they all came to the Sixes at Cowglen in 2004 and Appin duly won the trophy on penalties from Coasters.
A home and away game against Appin was now established and it was great to see Rab again and the rest of the team who were as friendly as him.
More Sixes followed and Rab was a great help at these events by volunteering to referee and also he became the designated marker of the Quiz papers.
In the last couple of years our games have been curtailed due to bad weather, lack of transport and players and this had meant that we haven’t played as often as we should. We did meet up however in April in Perth for a four team tournament and, as usual, it was great to see Rab and the Appin guys. Our game against Appin ended goalless before it went to knockout penalties. We missed ours but Appin won through as they scored theirs, taken by Rab. The Sixes was the next big event on the horizon as the Appin team and the Appin Primary School (including Ross) were invited to this year’s tournament.
I remember the last time I met Rab. It was Saturday 2nd May 2009. Rab and Ross had travelled to Glasgow to see Raith Rovers play Queen’s at Hampden in a game that ended up in a 1-0 win for Rovers which meant they clinched the Scottish 2nd Division Championship. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours in Rab and Ross’s company before the game and we met afterwards with Rab being thoroughly delighted that his beloved Rovers had triumphed. I was standing outside Hampden with John Drennan as Rab and Ross headed for home with a cheery wave and a “see you at the Sixes” farewell. I had earlier been told that Rab had a coach booked for Glasgow and forty two people, including fourteen kids, were travelling from Appin for the Sixes, an incredible effort from a small village.
As we now know, tragedy has since struck and we will no longer see Rab’s cheery smile or enjoy his company again.
I know how much he did for the Appin area but he was like that in all the years I knew him. On my visits helping out at the Duror Hotel he always made a point of coming up to see me for a pint and a chat and if I needed a lift anywhere he never thought twice. It’s always a cliché to say that you never heard a bad word about somebody but I honestly never heard a bad word about Rab and, I also know it’s easy to say nice things when someone passes away but I can’t think of one time in 20 years when we had a bad word between us or any point of dispute. It wasn’t in Rab’s nature to let trivial things bother him and life was there to be enjoyed which he did to the full.
Rab will be missed by so many people and it was a pleasure to know him and a privilege to call him a friend. My thoughts are with Lorna, Aimie and Ross and all his family and friends.
Rest In Peace Geordie"
Iain Campbell 14th May 2009