Rodgerson Casts his way into Selkirk’s history

It has been a 25-year wait for Martin Rodgerson but his time as Standard Bearer past as quickly as the wind through Selkirk on Friday morning.

From a family steeped in the Common Riding tradition, Martin was destined for Selkirk’s highest honour since he started riding at the age of three.

This year was his 22nd, and most important, ride of the Marches, and with such experience some would have taken the route for granted.

Not Martin. He savoured every moment, from receiving the Royal and Ancient Burgh flag at 6.45am from Provost David Anderson until it was handed back unsullied and untarnished in front of a packed Market Place.

The emotions appeared close to overcoming him on a number of occasions, including The Toll when he hugged girlfriend Jayne Andrew, to the Casting in the Market Place, where he held off from heaving the banner until completely ready.

But the 28-year-old wore a smile as wide as the River Ettrick afterwards.

He told the Wee Paper: “I got a brilliant crowd and brilliant attendants to support me.

“The highlight was the Casting. I decided to take my time going up there as you only get one chance to do it and I wanted to do it right.

“It was very windy when you got on the stage but to see everyone up there supporting me was amazing.

“The wind also made it hard when we were up the hill.

“There was a lot of pressure on me to live up to the standards of previous Standard Bearers, but hopefully I lived up to it.

“I think it will be a few days until I realise what I have done.”

Following behind grandfather George (1950), dad Brian (1980) and uncle Ian (1986), Martin’s Hail Smilin’ Morn began with the sound of the Flute Band awakening him at 4am.

Sun welcomed Common Riding Day 2013, a welcome sight after last year’s drenching, widely thought of as the wettest for 65 years.

The Act of Remembrance at the town’s War Memorial followed before the Silver Band’s first drum and the sound of the Exiles singing Her Bright Smile rang out.

Upon picking up the Burgh flag, Martin led his attendants Adam Nichol, Greg MacDougall, Thomas Bell, Menzies Haining and Chris Sanders, and the remaining members of the 337 mounted followers, to check the boundaries of the town – 900 years since King David granted Selkirk large amounts of its current land.

Doon the Green they went to the sound of O’ a’ the Airts, and through the low lying River Ettrick which glistened in the early morning sun.

The riders made the steep climb to the Three Brethern, where Martin enjoyed a stunning view across his homeland, just as his dad Brian had done 33 years previous.

Then the trek back into Selkirk, where Standard Bearer Rodgerson led the procession back to huge roars from the awaiting crowd at The Toll.

Spectators quickly filed up to the Market Place and an hour later, Standard Bearer Rodgerson emerged, Burgh flag still proudly held in his right hand while on board Rogan.

He waited, and waited.

But finally he stepped onto the Casting stage, and once there, performed his role with aplomb in the windy conditions.

It was fitting tribute by the newsagent, exactly 500 years after Fletcher’s poignant act brought back news of the Souter slaughter on Flodden’s fields.

A video of Martin Rodgerson’s Casting can be viewed at