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Dear Ed, – This is a stroll...no, a sprint, down memory lane re Joe Porcelli.
It was fate which threw us together, a horse called ”Know Your Fate”. Joe fancied it, he said it would win, I believed him. Both wrong.
Joe was the all-round sportsman. He could sprint the 200m from the cafe to Maureen Gillespie’s (the bookies in the Wellgate) in under 20 seconds, his hurdling was graceful, he could vault car bonnets, kids’ pushchairs, dodge oncoming traffic in a one-way street and still make it before the race was off.
Joe loved the marathon. This one involved cars. In August, a round-trip from Lanark to York for the Ebor Handicap was organised. We left Lanark at 6.30am armed with a Sporting Life and plenty of confidence.
Transport was Joe’s Triumph 2000. York by 6.30, a visit to a greengrocers in the Shambles for artichokes for Sara. Lunch at the Youngs Hotel, taxi to the course, six races later (a little richer or a little poorer) we headed home via The Grange in Appleby for dinner.
Joe Porcelli was the best left hander in Lanark Golf Course, that is until Ian Coulter and I joined. We soon put him in his place.
It was quite unusual to see three left handers playing together.
Joe was an excellent football player in his youth, but you can’t turn the clock back. A challenge was accepted by Joe to field a Porcelli eleven against a Lanimer Sports committee select at the racecourse one cold April afternoon.
Apart from John and Paul Porcelli, the Porcelli team was made up of over-the-hill stars. The Lanimer select, however, had youth on its side; well, middle-aged dribblers led by Davie Chalmers whose claim to football fame was that he came on as a substitute for Albion Rovers in a pre-season game against a BB select in 1964.
The game finished 2-2, it went to penalties, I missed the last penalty. I have to say, Archie Neill pulled off a brilliant save to deny me victory, Joe scored his and was carried shoulder high from the pitch, not in celebration, he couldn’t walk, he had pulled a muscle in his back. A small price to pay for winning, I say.
As the winter drew in, Joe turned his talent to snooker. He played in the YMCA team and could rattle up breaks of 30 and 40. He was standing on the verge of greatness, his skills were sublime, when disaster struck, the YM went on fire. It was months before it opened but Joe had peaked too early. The young bucks were taking over – Bill Aitken, Clive Cox, Robert Hamilton.
Joe enjoyed a game of dominoes and every Sunday evening in the back room of the Wallace Cave a few friends would gather to play knockout dominoes. The stakes were so high that a draw was made every week to see where you were sitting. The game never started until Joe had shut the cafe and had run upstairs to get his sandwich.
The usual suspects, Walter Gillan, Robert Romer, Richard Clifton, Davie Chalmers, myself, Tich Downie and Big John Hamilton. We all sat patiently waiting for Joe to arrive. It was a 20p post, (high stakes in those days) the winner was made for life, well at least for the next week. Joe was like Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars.
He ate his sandwich, sipped his half pint of lager, blew the smoke from his cafe creme cigar across the table before giving that legendary shout, ”Who’s down is it?” He liked to milk it. I’m sure Joe wrote to Seb Coe to have dominoes included in the Olympics. Well, maybe next time.
Saturday mornings in the Cross Cafe. An open discussion on any sporting subject took place every Saturday morning. In the red corner, Joe and Archie Neill, in the blue corner, the sporting brains of Lanark – Harry Dewson, Robert Wilson, John Millar, Alex Morrison and Bryden Yuill. What they didn’t know about sport wasn’t worth knowing.
Heated debates about whether Lester Piggot would win the big race at Ascot? Could Celtic beat Motherwell at Fir Park? Would Lanark United stay top of the league? It became so intense that sometimes Mario had to step in as referee.
The customers? They sat patiently waiting to be served, enjoying every minute. Happy Days. – Yours etc.,
Dear Ed, – I was astonished to read your front page article in last week’s edition of the Lanark Gazette about the attitude of the present Local Authority towards a Royal Burgh.
I had assumed that their erroneous and misinformed view (that Royal Burghs disappeared with Town Councils) had been well and truly knocked on the head over 30 years ago.
Apparently not in the case of the Legal Department of South Lanarkshire Council.
In 1978 I registered the Royal Burgh of Lanark Coat of Arms in the name of the Community Council in the face of strenuous legal objections from the then incumbent of the Convenership of the local District Council – a local authority which was abolished about 16 years later.
At that time the Lord Lyon King of Arms made it abundantly clear that Royal Burgh Charters in Scotland had not been revoked and still subsisted in accordance with the wishes of the citizens of the Community – in the case of Lanark since the 12th Century.
The situation is unchanged and it is heartening to note that the chairman of the Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council continues robustly to defend our Royal Burgh. – Yours etc.,
T. HENRY SHANKS,
Dear Ed – I reside at Gallowhill, Braedale Road and since August the Lanark Primary School buses have been stopping outside my door to pick up and drop off children to take them to and from school which I do not have a problem with.
Since that time there has been one child knocked down; luckily it was not too serious.
There were several near misses, the last being yesterday, November 6, when a child ran across the road between the buses and was nearly struck by a car.
Is the council going to wait until a child is killed or badly maimed before something is done to supervise these children?
This pick-up point is on a steep hill and will only get worse as we go into the winter.
Can you advise me if there has been a health and safety risk assessment policy done on this procedure for this and other pick up points? – Yours etc.,
A W LITHGOW,