Emotions, as they always do, ran high on Common Riding Morning . It wouldn’t be Selkirk Common Riding if they didn’t.
There were cheers and there were tears. There were hugs and firm handshakes. There were fond hellos and reluctant cheerios.
And for those who took to the Royal and Ancient Burgh’s biggest stage it was a day they will never forget. A day they will never want to forget.
Cast in the principal role was Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Greg MacDougall. And he fulfilled that role to the full.
With marches checked and Burgh Flag Cast and returned unsullied and untarnished, he revealed his feelings to The Wee Paper: “The best feeling in your life.”
He went on: “The Casting of the Colours summed up the whole day. There were great feelings, great emotions. I’ve been lucky to have been an Attendant five times and I think I’ve been more nervous then.
“It’s always great for an Attendant in his first year to carry the flag up to the Three Brethren. You know that for him it’ll be a great moment, and it was for Darren Knox.
“My highlights were coming in at The Toll and the Casting. And obviously this year we’ve had Fiona Deacon, the first female Standard Bearer, and that was a great emotional moment as well – she got up and done her job.”
Fiona, the Standard Bearers for the Ex-Soldiers Association, has been a proud ambassador for her Association – carrying the Flag a year after her husband David.
Speaking at The Toll and asked about the Casting, she said: “It’s just been amazing so far, seeing Greg being presented with his Colours, the March down The Green and the riders coming in at the Toll and I’m OK at the moment. But it might differ when I march into the Market Place. I’ve had plenty of practice, but it doesn’t prepare you for getting up there in front of all those people. We’ll see what happens.”
And she seemed reluctant to play-up the significance of her appointment.
She told us: “It is a historical day every year for Selkirk, not just today. Every Common Riding Day is a historical event for Selkirk. Today, in my eyes, is no different to any other – we’re just the next generation of Flag bearers.”
Husband David commented: “I am very proud. It is not a decision we took lightly and it is great. We are new to the town and it has been brilliant. I am very proud of her.”
An exhilarated Weaver’s Standard Bearer John Black told us: “I cannot put it into words. It’s a dream come true. I’ve watched the Casting since I was a wee boy, which wasn’t yesterday, and I’ve had my shot. It was everything I expected – and more. There was fear, anticipation and pleasure. Everybody knows when you get on the final loop, it’s the home run, you’ve done your job. I’m chuffed to bits and credit to the Weavers Corporation, because it’s a team effort, without a doubt. “I’ve been riding for umpty-tum years, but this year there was a passion I’d never experienced before. It was fantastic.”
Colonial Standard Bearer Kenny Thomson said: “I went from extreme nervousness to extreme passion in about 30 seconds. I didn’t sleep last night. I can tell you, it was nerve-wracking. Once you get over the first bit it does fall into place – but you do think you’re going to mess it up.”
At The Toll, Merchant Company Standard Bearer Andrew Anderson, told The Wee Paper: “I am hugely proud and honoured to entrusted with the Merchant Company Flag. I’m a little bit sad thinking about my dad [the late Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Elliot Anderson] not being here. But I’m very excited about the day and very happy to see so many people.”
Also at The Toll, David Main of the Hammermen was asked to describe his day so far. He told us: “Exhilarating, nerve-wracking, just about every emotion you can imagine, is going through me the now. So far, the highlight was getting the Flag, starting in the procession, and then coming down past my mum and dad, just opposite Wellwood, seeing all my kids and family up on the banking, just cheering, waving. I was almost tearful, but I managed to hold it in.”
First time Attendant Darren Knox told us at the end of the morning: “It was really good. A dream come true – to carry that flag up to the Three Brethren. It really guid, really, guid – it was some feeling.
“When I first got the Flag, and looked up at it, and looked at all the followers, everybody behind me – a brilliant feeling. Having the Flag is a massive honour.
“We worked out as a team on the hill today, no hiccups and we all stuck together so it was good. I saw my two aunties just now after the Casting and burst into tears, so it was good. I’ll catch up with my mum and dad up at The Rig today – they’ll be mega-proud.”
Attendant Scott Rodgerson said his day had been excellent. And the best bit?
“It had to be carrying the Burgh Flag across the Peat Law, he said. And emotions? “Pride mainly – and camaraderie. We’ve been a great bunch. Ever since Appointment Night we’ve all got all really well together. There’s been a good bond.”
Last year’s Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Martin Rodgerson, took on the role of a Burleyman, this year.
He told us: “It’s grand. It’s completely different. We come dead last, and just the four of us have a nice hack on the way back and see the countryside, whereas last year you’re kind of busy. And how can you no’ get emotional about the Casting?” The Royal Burgh Standard Bearer’s dad Ewan, said he couldn’t be prouder of son Greg. He told us: “He has had to wait 10 years for this to happen, and now it has happened.”
Ewan, who was Merchant Company Standard Bearer in 1999, added: “The weather’s been so kind to us – I don’t want him to be casting to umbrellas, and it turned out perfect. It was very emotional at the end there.
“He’s come from a very nervous little boy, to what you’ve seen today, and I think he’s conducted himself in a manner that befits the position of Royal Burgh Standard Bearer.
“When you walk up on that platform, all you can see are heads – you don’t recognise anybody, except for Colin Kemp in the band.
“You have to focus in the job at hand, to make sure it’s done properly, and that’s what he has done.
“I just shook his hand and said ‘well done Greg’, after both The Toll and the Casting. This morning I had a wee word in his ear: ‘concentrate Greg, focus, you’ve waited 10 years for this, the big day has finally arrived’.”