Goodbye to an Ibrox legend

THERE were smiles, and there were tears, as the great and the good of football remembered one of their own -Sandy Jardine.

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  • Hundreds turned out to honour Sandy Jardine
    Hundreds turned out to honour Sandy Jardine
  • Hundreds turned out to honour Sandy Jardine
  • Hundreds turned out to honour Sandy Jardine
  • Hundreds turned out to honour Sandy Jardine
  • Hundreds turned out to honour Sandy Jardine
  • Hundreds turned out to honour Sandy Jardine
  • Hundreds turned out to honour Sandy Jardine
  • Hundreds turned out to honour Sandy Jardine

Known as Billy to his pals, his lifelong friend, David Ross, said at the outset of his eulogy, at Mortonhall Crematorium, in Sandy's native Edinburgh: "This is a very sad day for us all, and I'm sure Billy would not want this atmosphere.

"The three things that Billy loved most were football, friends and family."

As reported in later editions of last night's Evening Times, around 1000 mourners packed into the crematorium. Footballing legends joined family and friends to say farewell to Jardine who died last week from cancer at the age of 65.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Rangers manager Ally McCoist were among the mourners. Former Rangers player, manager and director John Greig was one of the pallbearers and ex-manager Walter Smith, current captain Lee McCulloch and Ibrox legend Willie Henderson also turned out to pay their respects to Jardine.

"He was a wonderful player who played to win, but played fairly and bore no grudges once the final whistle had blown," Mr Ross said.

"To the legions of Rangers fans, he will quite rightly be remembered not only for his football ability, but also as someone who served the club with great distinction and loyalty."

Mr Ross spoke as only a close friend could: of Sandy's gregarious personality, his generosity, his pride in his seven grandchildren.

Friends such as Mr Ross, John Murphy and Ian Cruickshanks were important to him. Back in the day, Mr Ross signed for Dundee, John for Hibs and Ian for Hearts.

"As Billy's career blossomed with Rangers, he never forgot us," Mr Ross said. "For one big European game abroad, he kindly left us a bottle of champagne, which his mother Peggy served up with rolls as we watched the match on TV at his house."

In 1964, Sandy used his first Rangers bonus, which was paid in cash, to buy his mum a fur coat.

In the early 1970s, he joined Broomieknowe Golf Club and his handicap fell to 13.

In later years he and his friends would golf in the south of France. This would have been the 13th year of that expedition.

"Billy always insisted on being the chauffeur, which allowed John, Ian and I to drink far too much," said Mr Ross.

In 2010, the four friends marked their 60th birthdays with an "unforgettable week" at the US Masters in Augusta.

Two years later, they watched Usain Bolt win the 100m Olympics in London.

"When Usain flashed past the winning post, Billy announced 45 years ago, he would have given him a run for his money. Aye," Mr Ross recalled.

The four were at dinner on November 2, 2012, when Sandy complained of a lump on his neck. It was the start of his cancer battle.

He endured great pain for more than a year, but eventually it seemed as if he had won his fight.

He and his wife Shona had organised a lunch in January this year to celebrate his recovery, but a few days before came the news the cancer was terminal. Typically, he declined the chance to cancel the lunch which went ahead as planned.

"Throughout this period, Billy's strength of character and courage were beyond belief," Mr Ross said. "Never once did we hear him complain, or ask, 'why me?'"

He praised Shona's selfless care of her husband. By focusing fully on him, she had made it "as easy as possible for him now to rest in peace".

russell.leadbetter@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Football

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