Tributes have been paid this week to former Radio Borders broadcaster Stuart McCulloch, who died on Friday, aged 46.
The popular rugby commentator and presenter gained a small army of followers in his time at the Tweedbank-based station, in his stints on the Saturday morning “18th Floor” shows, but mainly for his incredibly knowledgeable commentary from the back of many a Borders rugby stand.
This week, several of his colleagues paid tribute.
Fellow broadcaster Stuart Cameron said: “When I came to the Borders at the end of the last century and began tuning in to Radio Borders there was one voice in particular which stood out for me, particularly for his rugby commentary, and that was Stuart’s.
“What I found refreshing was his passion for the game, and the way he cared about rugby and the people involved with the game in the Borders, from referees to players and spectators.
“His style was infectious and effortless. You would never ever call Stuart politically correct, and while he was always fair he never let anyone forget he was a Hawick man through and through, and that tongue-in-cheek banter when he would be commentating on Hawick was there for all to hear.
“Even the dullest of games would feel like an exciting one with Stuart at the microphone.
“He was very opinionated and he never shirked away from saying what he wanted to say. He was always open and honest and sometimes his comments would get him into a wee bit of trouble, but he was never malicious.
“If he thought something should be discussed he would say it and he commanded respect throughout the rugby community.
“I am sure that all Borders clubs, players, referees and supporters will mark his sad passing by recognising what he did for Borders rugby in some way.
“Stuart McCulloch was a one-off and his place in Borders Rugby history is guaranteed.”
One of his fellow commentators, Stuart McFarlane, often found himself on the receiving end of Stuart’s humour, but it really was all in good jest.
Stuart said: “Many supporters purposefully sat close to his commentary position and would listen out for a particular turn of phrase, a familiar catchphrase or his reaction to a refereeing decision he didn’t entirely agree with.
“If Hawick held a 15-14 lead then you were guaranteed at least one reference to a famous battle!
“One year we travelled down to Neath and back in one day to cover a Reivers game, no mean feat. The chat on the way back – we had Alan Tait with us on the way home – was entertaining to say the least.
During the 18 years I worked with Stuart I can’t think of a time when we ever had a cross word. He had a mischievous side and was capable of a good windup, sometimes at my expense.
“The many tributes paid on social media show just how many people appreciated his contribution to life here in the Borders.”
Lynsey Graham, station director at Radio Borders, said: “I was so deeply saddened to hear the news on Friday and my love and thoughts are with Stuart’s family.
“Stuart was such an incredibly talented broadcaster – and his love for the Borders shone through every time he was on air.
“His passion for local rugby was so obvious in every game that he covered – it gave you goose bumps just listening to him.
“Working with Stuart was an absolute joy and I will treasure the memories so very fondly. He had a wonderful sense of humour and I‘ve never met anyone quite like him and doubt that I will again.”
And fellow presenter Keith Clarkson, now content director at the station, said: “I spent a good 20 years working with Stuart at Radio Borders.
“He was always a larger than life character and we had so many fun times and laughs along the way.
“He had his own unique style of broadcasting, one which really connected with the listeners in a way like no other. His interactions with listeners on the phones, and in person if out on an outside broadcast, were always a joy to listen to.
“He became one of the very best in this field.
“He will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”