Selkirk salutes club stalwarts

TRIBUTES were paid to two of Selkirk Football Club's most prolific personalities at a special lunch in the Yarrow Park clubrooms on Saturday.

Former player/coach Jackson Cockburn and ex-chairman Roger Arnold were awarded lifetime memberships in recognition of the work they have done in making the club what it is today.

Stars of the past, present and future gathered to honour the duo, with chairman Jim Moody overseeing proceedings.

Former player turned football writer Keith Anderson led the tributes to Cockburn.

He said: “I’ve known Jackson for about 40 years. It was the late 60s when he first came here to work. I always remember he had this big red van at the time and I was always in awe of him because he drove about in this thing that looked like a fire engine.

“It wasn’t until 1972 that Jackson appeared at the football club. It was Bill Crosby that signed him from Vale, but we were all excited because before that he had played for Ipswich Town, who in the 60s and 70s were the equivalent of today’s top English clubs.”

Anderson added: “Jackson had an immediate impact on us lads at Selkirk, not only for his ability on the field, but for his humour and camaraderie off it. He brought something extra that the team had been missing.

“The following year Ian (Chalky) Whitehead came along and he also made an impact and between the two of them – none would suffer fools gladly – really transformed the team.”

During the 73/74 campaign, the Souters qualified for the final of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup. Selkirk hadn’t won a trophy for 28 years at that time, but they triumphed 2-0.

Anderson told the gathering: “In the late 70s Jackson moved on to Gala Fairydean and suddenly found himself on the wrong end of a 10-1 scoreline against his former club. He came back to Selkirk, though, and throughout the 80s and 90s continued to make an impact, both playing and coaching, as well as introducing an 11-year-old Jason Cockburn to Selkirk FC.

“Away from football Jackson was also busy. In one of his more outrageous fundraising efforts for the club he swam, paddled and flippered his way from Peebles to Berwick via the River Tweed.”

Receiving the honour, Cockburn admitted: “Prior to joining the club, I thought I was too good for it. But then I saw players like Laurie Wilson, Kenny Rutherford and Neil McFadzean playing and realised their was real potential there. We had a superb time in the 70s.

“One of the great things for me, however, in terms of Selkirk Football Club was seeing the junior side set up. The facilities here now are absolutely fantastic.”

He went on: “We always struggled to attract players in my day because there wasn’t much to come to, but now there is one of the best set-ups in the East of Scotland League.”

It was Cockburn who persuaded Arnold to take the position of chairman – a move which all agreed had been crucial.

Club secretary Alan Skeldon told us: “That was about the time we were asked to leave Ettrick Park and had to come up here. There were a lot of us on the committee at that time, but none of us had the business knowledge that Roger had and without his expertise and business sense we may have struggled a bit. Without Roger, and help from a few others, I don’t think we would be standing here today with the facilities we have.

“While Roger looked after thinks off the park, Derek Kerr was coaching a team and together they did a formidable job.”

Still a great supporter of the club, Arnold replied: “Looking back when Jackson suggested to me that I become chairman at the club I was wary. We took a lot of stick when we were made homeless and it was very, very hard to get through it all, but we did it and it certainly sorted the men from the boys.”

He added: “When I finished at the club my main concern was that all the hard work we had put into the club would be forgotten about and things would fall through, but I think what Jim (Moody) and everyone else involved has achieved since then should be highly commended.”