Darren crowned chieftain o’ puddin’ race

Chieftains o' the puddin' race Alan Scott, Darren Hoggan and Andrew Scott of Selkirk butchers J and A Waters celebrate after becoming the Scottish Haggis Champions.
Chieftains o' the puddin' race Alan Scott, Darren Hoggan and Andrew Scott of Selkirk butchers J and A Waters celebrate after becoming the Scottish Haggis Champions.

SELKIRK’s rugby stalwarts, victorious at their own sevens on Saturday, were not the only winners of silverware at the weekend.

For the following day, butcher Darren Hoggan won the glittering prize and a trophy as Scottish Champion of the Year at the prestigious Haggis Masters competition, run by the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders, in Perth.

The 33-year-old, who was hooker for the Souters in his playing days and is in his last year as joint coach of the semi-juniors at Selkirk Youth Club, beat off the challenge of 94 rival butchers to claim the blue riband of the haggis world, which is awarded every two years.

“It was fantastic to win,” said Darren, who is proprietor of the J. A. Waters shop in the town’s High Street.

“I’ll not be sharing the secret of my haggis, but I can tell you that after tinkering away with various recipes, I changed it at the start of this year.

“It’s a case of finding the best balance because, sometimes, haggis has too many spices.”

A panel of expert judges at Perth’s Dewars Centre sampled the various delights on show before first announcing Darren as the 2011 Haggis Master for south-east Scotland and then as the Scottish Champion, beating off stiff and tasty competition from regional butchers from Huntly, Arbroath, Kirkintilloch and Dalbeatie.

Darren served his apprenticeship with Wattie Miller and continued to work in the shop until buying the business four years ago.

“I must admit that since I came up with the new recipe, sales of the haggis have improved and the feedback from customers has been very positive,” revealed Darren. “I’m glad the judges agreed and that Selkirk, already famous for its Grace, can now be just as famous for its haggis.”

His success helped soften the blow of the Youth Club’s defeat in the national youth final at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Now a silver trophy sits in his shop window – and Darren hopes his haggis will be as popular as the common riding!