Yesterday’s Top 5 Birthday Songs met with a “Wot, No Sugarcubes?” comment from Neil. He’s quite right, of course, because it was, and still is, a crackin’ tune. But at the time I went with the songs with the most interesting stories.
One of the last lists I wrote for Recommends was in May 2009. It may not have even been published. Again, a search of my records may confirm or deny this. It’s also one of my favourite Top 5s from all my contributions.
BEST UNLIKELY SCOTTISH SPORT STARS
1. Elephant Polo World Champions – Chivas Regal Scotland won the first of their World titles in 2001 and followed that success with wins in 2004 and 2005. They relinquished their title in 2006 to fellow Scots Angus Estates, captained by James Manclark, a co-founder of the World Elephant Polo Association. James’ own team won the first championship in 1982. In 1986 a team comprising of Billy Connolly, Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach and Max Boyce took part. What next, snake golf?
2. Wrestler (old style) – Born Martin Ruane, Giant Haystacks became a household name in the UK and had a long running spat with fans’ favourite Big Daddy. He became an honorary Scot when he wrestled in North America in the 80s and 90s as “The Loch Ness Monster”. Unlike some of his business ventures his debt-collection agency, not surprisingly, was successful. He passed away in 1998 after a long battle with cancer.
3. Wrestler (new style) – “Cousins” Robbie and Rory McCallister wrestle for World Wrestling Entertainment as “The Highlanders”. Born in Oban, they made their professional debut in 2002 on the Canadian circuit before being offered a deal with WWE. They’re currently based in Cambridge, Ontario. And, yes, they do wrestle in kilts!
4. Hotshot Hamish – A giant of a man Hotshot Hamish had a sledgehammer of a shot, which often burst ‘onion bag’ and woodwork alike. Tales of his transfer from a small Hebridean island to the Scottish Premier League club Princes Park were told in Scorcher and Tiger magazine. After Tiger ceased in 1985, ‘Roy of the Rovers’ magazine took up the story and later merged it with the Jan Molby-esque Mighty Mouse, renaming the new strip as simply “Hamish and Mouse”. The pair later signed for Glengow Rangers.
5. Gordon Stewart – “The Safest Hands in Soccer” was a Scottish goalkeeping force field of which nothing could penetrate, especially if it happened to be white, round and leather. From 1977 to 1982 readers of Roy of the Rovers magazine marvelled at the athleticism of the Tynefield City goalie as shots from all angles were kept out with death-defying leaps. However, his lucky mascot, a toy skeleton called Fred, couldn’t save him as he lost his life in a plane crash in 1982. The strip returned as “Goalkeeper” in 1983 with his son Rick, who had signed for local rivals Tynefield United, continuing the story.
Comments/Updates: The World Elephant Polo Association World Championships continue with this year’s tournament scheduled for 25-29 November 2013 at Badia National Park in Nepal. Travelling supporters may wish to pack a trunk. Sorry! While Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy became sworn enemies they originally started as tag team of baddies before Big Daddy turned nice guy. Giant Haystacks also released a single, Baby I Need You, in 1983. It didn’t chart. The Highlanders retired from the wrestling circuit in January 2013. Roy of the Rovers ceased publication in 1995, although The Safest Hands in Soccer had finished five years earlier and Hamish and Mouse ended in 1993.