THE ties between Selkirk and Manchester City Football Club have been woven even stronger by the launch of a new tartan for the big-spending English Premier League giants.
On the eve of the 10th anniversary of Souter and City great Bobby Johnstone’s death, textile firm A S Campbell, from his hometown, has produced a special design for his former side – believed to be the first official tartan for an English football club.
Manchester City life president Bernard Halford made the trip to Selkirk last Friday to unveil Manchester Blues, created by Gerald Reilly of A S Campbell.
Mr Reilly revealed the project began way back in January last year when a group of 26 Souters – headed by former Selkirk Football Club chairman Craig Douglas – made the trip to City’s ground, renamed the Etihad Stadium earlier this month, for a charity Burns Night.
The gathering of around 300 included City boss Roberto Mancini who was presented with another A S Campbell product – a Guardian of Scotland scarf commemorating William Wallace’s historic appointment at the Kirk o’ the Forest in Selkirk.
Mr Reilly revealed: “Roberto Mancini wore one of our scarves on the night and one thing led to another, and the idea for the Manchester Blues tartan was born.
“Craig took the idea to his friend Bernard Halford who, along with Mike Summerbee, presented it to the board and it was approved.
“Tartan is timeless and when I saw the pallet of Manchester City colours sent to me by the club I knew they would work beautifully. I am absolutely sure that this product will confirm Scotland and the Scottish Borders’ world-class reputation for designing and producing the finest quality cashmere and lambswool fabrics in the world.”
Mr Halford added: “It is fantastic for the club and when the supporters see the products in the club store I am sure they will love them.”
Mr Reilly’s firm will produce cashmere and lambswool scarves, ties and stadium rugs on behalf of the club, after teaming up with sports merchandising giant Kitbag.
The design has been trademarked and lodged with the Scottish register of tartans and the Scottish Tartans Authority to protect its exclusivity.
Johnstone remains a legend on the blue side of Manchester after becoming the first player to score in consecutive FA Cup finals at Wembley.
Prior to joining City, he was part of Hibs’ Famous Five line-up, scoring an impressive 88 goals in 168 games in his first spell at Easter Road in the early 1950s, and his 17 Scotland caps were earned during his time at both clubs.
Since his death at the age of 71 on August 22, 2001, Johnstone has been inducted into the Scottish Football Association’s Hall of Fame – but calls for a statue or memorabilia display dedicated to the footballer in his hometown have so far failed.