Doddie Weir always had a special relationship with the camera during his playing career.
Be it marauding around the fields of world rugby with first, Melrose, before Newcastle Falcons, Border Reivers, Scotland and the British & Irish Lions, the 6ft 6in lock was a regular photo opportunity.
Even now, facing his greatest-ever battle to slow the rampaging pack that is motor neurone disease, Doddie receives the same request he first heard when he was lining up for an early team photo: “And can you just come down a wee bit at the back, big yin?”.
The memory makes the 49-year-old – these days more likely to be snapped in a magnificent tartan suit than dark blue jersey – smile.
And a new book, Dark Blue Blood: Scottish Rugby In The Black & White Era, is guaranteed to make every rugby fan smile.
Packed with pictures from a bygone era when players played for the jersey and not much else, it is a trip along Memory Lane to a time when a picture said a thousand words.
Doddie recalled: “At the Greenyards, one wall is dedicated to those Melrose players who wore the thistled jersey, resplendent with their first cap.
“It was, as I was reminded often enough coming through the ranks: ‘Where you want to be’.
“While it’s fantastic to take the acclaim later in your career with Scotland and so on, you never forget the time when you were just emerging at club level, making the breakthrough and being spoken about.
“And, inevitably, the first real recognition you got was through your local newspaper.
“A few words of praise made you feel 10 feet tall – although, clearly, I was much taller than that!
“But a photograph? Wow, now you had really made it.
“My late mother collected every scrap, cutting or article from the publications printed around the Borders, singling out her favourites, often with a critical eye.
“Her main complaint was that too often – even in joyous moments like scoring a try – I looked very serious.
“I don’t think she fully appreciated that when you were being lifted miles in the air, smiling for the cameras wasn’t your No. 1 priority.
“You might see that look of fear flicking through the pages of this excellent book.
“Lovers of rugby, be they players or punters, will see folk they remember, and recall the names, places and friends that has made rugby such a fantastic game.”
Dark Blue Blood: Scottish Rugby In The Black & White Era is £19.99, and available now from all good book sources. For quick, reliable delivery and free postage, go to dcthomsonshop.co.uk
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