Gala RFC stalwart Johnny Gray (right of picture) was honoured for his unwavering contribution to rugby over six decades in last Friday night’s ClubSport Ettrick & Lauderdale Awards at Netherdale clubrooms.
And, after he had accepted his Scottish Association of Local Sports Council’s Service to Sport Award, he urged the capacity audience to do the same.
“I believe it’s our duty to put something back in when we come out,” he said.
Having also noted that political statements were sometimes required at such occasions, Gray added: “Mine would be that more money needs to be put into sport. Sport contributes greatly to health benefits, community spirit and I think there would be less trouble in society as a whole if more people were involved.”
A sentiment in which the former Gala and South of Scotland winger certainly led by example. Following a highly successful playing career that started at Gala Red Triangle in 1956 and ended at his beloved Gala RFC in 1972, Gray himself made a massive contribution to his sport.
He coached the Triangle, Gala Star, South of Scotland Juniors and then Seniors, Gala Wanderers and Langlee Primary School, while he was also Gala RFC’s first director of rugby, a member of the executive, anhonorary vice-president, and was chairman of the Junior Rugby Council for over a decade.
In 2015 he was made a life member of the club and can still be found today, down at Netherdale, picking up rubbish and making the car park ready for match days.
“It seems somewhat fraudulent to accept an award for something you enjoy doing,” added Gray. “It’s perhaps my good lady who should be getting the award for tolerating my 60-year involvement within the game of rugby. Nonetheless, I am deeply honoured.”
Hosted by ClubSport Ettrick & Lauderdale chairman Trevor Bryant, the evening was a true celebration of success for sportsmen and women of all ages and abilities.
There was a definite aquatic feel to the night, with three of the eight category winners having made a big splash within their chosen sport.
Galashiels canoeist Alice Haining sailed off with the 2017 Sports Personality of the Year, following a season which saw the 23-year-old crowned the K1W Senior British Champion.
Alice’s achievement was even more remarkable as she had battled through a lengthy fightback from a rib injury, training six months on her own, to achieve reselection to the GB Under 23 Squad.
A former winner of the Junior Sports Personality of the Year Award. Alice, who also works as a canoeing academy coach in Nottingham, said: “My roots are very much in the Borders and a lot of the help I have had, financial and supportive, has come from here.”
Swimming star Beth Johnston was named Junior Sports Personality of the Year following a highly successful season in the pool which saw her selected onto the British Swimming Para Academy Programme.
The third of the three winning water babies was Earlston’s Kirsty Gibb, who collected the Disability Sports Award. A member of the Border Barracudas Performance Squad, Kirsty has consistently moved up the time bands throughout 2017, breaking countless personal best times in the process.
Former Melrose rugby player and coach, John Dalziel, took the Coach of the Year title in recognition of his appointment as Scotland 7s coach ahead of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next April.
Kerry Waddell won the Junior Coach Award for her work within P.H.D FUNdamentals (gymnastics and trampoline club) both in Galashiels and Peebles.
The Team of the Year Award went to Gala Harriers Juniors, whose strong and talented team contributed massively to the composite Team Borders triumph in the Forth Valley and East of Scotland track and cross country leagues, as well as enjoying countless individual success stories throughout last season.
Gala Cricket Club was the worthy recipient of the Club of the Year Award, having already made great progress in the first year of a five-year strategy, created with the help of Cricket Scotland and Svend Sports Marketing Network.
The Meigle Park outfit formed four working groups to help implement the strategy and has already started to make waves in the different aspects involved, mainly community engagement,participation and performance.
2017 winners at a glance:
Junior Coach of the Year (sponsored by Gall Robertson) – Kerry Waddell.
Coach of the Year (sponsored by Pro-Active HR) – John Dalziel.
Team of the Year (sponsored by S. Dalgleish & Son) – Gala Harriers Juniors.
Club of the Year (sponsored by Fjordhus Ltd) – Gala Cricket Club.
SALSC Service to Sport – Johnny Gray.
Disability Award (sponsored by Rowan Boland Memorial Trust) – Kirsty Gibb.
Junior Sports Personality of the Year (sponsored by The Trophy Guy) – Beth Johnston.
Sports Personality of the Year (sponsored by Sykes) – Alice Haining.