Remember I Carried That Queens Baton Thing?

I like a diary so since I carried the Queens Baton thing for the Commonwealth games last week last month, I thought I would fill anyone who is reading in on how that came to be.

wpid-img_20140628_111214.jpgIn diary form of course…..

Some time last year:

I was asked as a board member if I minded being nominated to carry the baton on behalf of the Killie Trust. I didn’t mind at all so agreed. It was as much to see what happened next as anything else, I would say it was pretty unlikely I would be picked at the time so a wee keek at the process for a nosey guy like me seemed ok. They sent out an email to confirm that I agreed to be nominated and then the waiting begun.

March(ish)

They play West FM on the radio at my work, on the news there are clips of people who have been selected as baton bearers and are celebrating. I check my emails, nothing happening there, so assume I haven’t been selected, however later in the afternoon an email appears, but it is blank, just an official header but no text. I phoned when home from work and I am told that it was a mistake, lots of people got sent the same and that they were working on it and would send another email later.

So I waited.

It arrived around 9pm and I had been selected. Haha. Who would have thought it. Magic. I don’t really know what to do now. Seems a bit weird. Luckily I didn’t have to break any news myself as its broke for me on facebook.

wpid-image-3712dbe43cf352163f98c220c8bc82d0077332bcd158f72928945ce6156666c7-v.jpgTuesday 27th May

Got my commonwealth running gear through today. And a letter that says I am carrying the baton through….New Cumnock. Hmmm.

Thursday 29th May

I call the Baton relay hotline (or office phone probably, kinda over selling it here) to see if there has been a mistake in where I have been placed to run. All the letters and FQA stuff I got on Tuesday says that you can’t swap and when its done its done but I am thinking maybe just maybe its a mistake. I get through and explain that New Cumnock is a fair distance away, I am closer to Prestwick, Irvine, Troon etc. all places outside East Ayrshire but closer than New Cumnock. She checks my record. Confirms that it is a fair bit away but then offers her sympathy and says that its just unlucky. Turns out its not a mistake. Ah well.

Wednesday 4th June

The photo call for baton bearers at Burns Monument in Kay Park is today. I have a few hours off my work to attend. the Provost gives a speech then we are out for the picture. I take a place up the back, out the way. The photographer snaps away without really making wpid-img_140042282903989.jpegit clear he had started then shuts the chair he was standing on and give the floor to the family and friends who were there with their point and shoots. I am positive I wasn’t looking in most, and I doubt I was smiling as I assumed he was just getting a few practice shot in before directing us to wave flags or cheers or whatever. Or maybe he did and I wasn’t paying attention. I was standing away up the back.

A photo appeared on facebook later on. Don’t think it was an official one, however, I’m not smiling in it. What a surprise.

Thursday 12th June

The photo that was taken appears in the Kilmarnock Standard. It looks mostly like the one above except I am looking at my phone in it. Brilliant.

Friday 20th June

After dodging it for almost a fortnight I was finally coralled into an interview for the local radio station, I did it over the phone down at my cousins house as I needed an iphone to record it on and send via email for whatever reason. After a shaky start I relaxed and answered the questions as fully as I could. I mentioned The Killie Trust when asked why I was nominated, rambled on some boring pish about the process of finding out, then when asked if I was nervous about anything I replied that I was more concerned about what I should wear on my feet as my running trainers are fithy and on their last legs. My choice would be my checkerboard Vans, but I would probably regret that. I wonder what all the other people will wear, I should do some research and check some photos online and see what has been the footwear of choice the past few days its been carried around Scotland. These are the type of things that entered my head at the last minute on the day before sadly. I also became concerned about how my running style would look as its not my best feature, and thats when running naturally (naturally is a curled shoulder shambling mess), I am guessing I will be trying to run a bit slower to savour the 200 metres but that will only make me look dafter. The reason I was dodging the interview is because I have a quite a dour personality and I was concerned about how that would come across. I tend to downplay things that happen in my life instead of come across excitable and cheery. I didnt want to sound ungrateful or miserable on West FM. Or any Fm for that matter as it couldn’t be farther from the truth, but my voice could convince you otherwise. I did it though, and we will se what clip gets used if any.

Anyway, at night I went to a stag do in the Brass and Granite pub, I repeated my worries there to a few people. Never got much helpful advice though.

wpid-dsc02524-20140624-150423.jpgSaturday 21st June. The Big Day

Woke and managed to get to New Cumnock for half 8 as requested. Turns out there were plenty of folk from Kilmarnock running here, this makes me feel good but also a bit of a dick for being so awkward about it and phoning to see if there had been a mistake, I bet they never made a phone call mind you. Just me. On the way down I hear myself on the radio, rambling on that boring pish about being told I had been selected. I’d love to say I was cringing however I wasn’t as my voice wasn’t as much as a whiny loser as I thought it was.

After a quick briefing on the minibus we were driven to our spots on the course. I was number 9 so third in New Cumnock (actually I was second as the person who was sencond never turned up so the first person ran two legs) my number indicator sticker was wrapped around a lamppost so you couldnt see it properly. I took a photo with my phone anyway but it’s not too clear. One of the bits of info that we were told on the bus was to try not to have your phone in your back pocket as the cameras were catching either arse cracks or people pulling up their trackies because of the weight in the back pocket. I had mine and hoped to hand it off to someone at my start place. However everyone congregated at the end of my 200 metres so I had to just take the risk of scanting myself with my phone.

The police escort came up and filled me in with how it all works. Again, some research prior would have been useful as when he told me there would be time to get my family in for a photo I didn’t know what that really meant and so when we got to them up around the changeover I didn’t know what to do. Since doing it I have seen clips and photos and folk getting good photos and the likes. Mines were kinda rushed and a bit of a mess actually. I hold my hands up there.

So my police escorts were there and then the lady who carried it 400 metres appeared. At the handover we get our photo taken with the baton together,then she would leave and I get my photo taken myself. This was something I questioned on the minibus beforehand actually. As it is the minutiae of things that bother me, as I have mentioned it’s not the carrying the baton that I worry bout rather the shoes I wear, how I run and now who holds the baton in the photos. It was cleared up though as it turns out we both hold onto it. Which is fine, and we do both hold it. Then she lets go and it’s me. So I start running. A light jog I think it would be best described.

I should note that it’s a bit of a strange thing in that you would expect to see the runner coming first with the baton in hand. The runner is pretty much last after a car with a led message thing on it’s roof, the BBC truck with the cameras filming each runner then you surrounded by cops running and motorbikes. So when I have it my family and friends out to see me don’t actually get a glimpse until the truck has passed.

I tried to take it all in, look around, spot things but really it’s over in a flash and there isnt much to look at really, few houses on the right, fields on the left, and the tv truck right in front, I suppose I just looked mostly at that hoping against hope that I didn’t look too odd and that I was holding the baton right and my trackies weren’t slipping down at all, that sort of thing, plus the thought that I could have a quick minute with my wife and kid before giving up the baton was on my mind.

As I said, when it came down to it we made a bit of a mess of it. Unsure where the cameras were and me being paranoid about what to do with the baton and how long we had we smiled and posed for something but not sure what. My wife hade made cracking wee daddy flags for Codys pram which ultimately have got in the way of a good photo.

wpid-dsc02540-20140624-150431.jpgI then jogged the last few feet and saw my mum, dad and sister who had arrived a bit late due to my dad taking advice from a guy from his work on where I would be running rather than the black and white of the letter I was sent. I then handed over the baton after the official handover photo and that was me. I walked back up to my family and the waiting West FM roving reporter Vicky Murray who interviewed me post run. She followed up on pretty much all the daft things I said the yesterday, in particular about my choice of running shoes, which in the end up I plumped for my blue adidas ones, and I admitted to scanning everyone elses feet as they arrived in the morning to make sure I hadnt made an awful mistake in chosing those particular ones.

That line of questioning didn’t make the edit when they played my clip on clyde 1 and West FM later on that day, rather it was my surprised delight that so many folk had travelled to see me. Like the one in the mornign, wasnt as bad as i feared. My worry of having a whiney, neddy west of Scotland accent faded more and more as the day went on.

wpid-img_139917026103988.jpegAfter that I walked back the length of New Cumnock to my car, saw the famed outdoor swimming pool, and drove home. Had a wee nap. Woke up to find my picture on the bbc website after my wife emailed it in and for the Killie Trust and others to have posted pictures on facebook.

Later on we headed into the town centre to see panto star Liam Dolan MC the proceeding in a saltire suit. Liam, back when he was called William was the DJ at my wee sisters birthday party in the Riccarton Community Centre actually. we waited around to see the baton finish its journey for the day in a wrestling ring at Kilmarnock cross in front of a big crowd.

A wrestling ring.

Was pretty cool actually.

Back home I barbecued in my baton bearer tshirt.

Tuesday 24th June

On my way back from a gig in Dumfries i decided to turn left at the roundabout in New Cumnock to the spot where I collected the baton to see if i could prise the wee number 9 sticker off the lampost as a memento of the day. Sadly it was stuck on fairly tightly and even though I badly need my nails cut i couldn’t get underneath it to get it off. Sake.

Thursday 26th June

Time to check the local papers and see if I feature.

I don’t. Well, I don’t know if I do or not, I only checked the Kilmarnock Standard and I am not in that, unsurprisingly since I was in the Cumnock Chronicle (i think) area.

Wednesday 16th July

After a shower I fire on my commonwealth trackie bottoms and remember that I haven’t posted this blog so put the final touches on it, give it a once over and write this short entry for today to complete it. At leats its published before the baton relay is finished so has (some) relevance. Which is the best I can hope for really.

So there we have it. All done, well not quite, obviously I have my commonwealth tattoo to get somewhere on my body, the Olympic athletes all get the rings on their bicep ot somewhere so surely I am now qualified to get some sort of emblem forever etched onto my person, athlete/baton bearer are the same thing in the whole movement, no? And of course there will be the unveiling of the mural on New Cumnock main street with me on there somewhere no doubt.

Or maybe not.

No, it was a brilliant experience and I am honoured to be a part of it, thanks to anyone rewding who came out and supported me or supported me from home or wherever, and to Andy Millar and the Killie Trust who nominated me, I really appreciate it. Thanks.

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Space Time Continuum

The butterfly effect is a plot device commonly used in Hollywood to drive the narrative of some of its biggest films. Its when characters travel back in time and change a moment in the past and it subsequently has a knock on effect on the future. Marty McFly rectifies a butterfly effect by having to engineer his parents getting together (after having arsed up their original moment) as that particular effect would have resulted in him ceasing, in the reality he left in 1985, to exist in Back to the Future. Similar stuff probably happens in the Ashton Kutcher and Richard Gere film actually called Butterfly Effect too, but I haven’t seen it.

This all seems a bit long winded and ultimately shite start to an article about football. Sorry for that. What I am trying to get at, by setting up that premise, is the what if of going back in time in football and changing an event which could in turn upset events that have happened since. Like……..

What if Alex Totten had actually signed Paul Scholes for Killie. Not everyone reading may be aware of this urban myth/absolute fact but its my understanding that back in the mid 90s when Totten went down to watch Colin McKee and subsequently spot Neil Whitworth and sign both in a double switch from Manchester United he actually had his eye caught by a wee ginger guy at Man United’s training ground. “who is the wee ginger fella, wouldn’t mind him” is how the story goes (in my head) of Totten’s conversation with Alex Ferguson while they watch the first team train and discuss the transfer of McKee and Whitworth. “he is yours for a million” Fergie replies. Totten declines because Killie don’t have a million to sign on a player and finalises the half millionish deal for the other two and heads back up the road, two Man United starlets in his back pocket from the “cant win anything with kids” era and the expected plaudits of the Killie fans and media at such a coup. You must have heard that story, it was from a bygone time where Scottish teams actually went down to the Premiership and paid money for some young reserve players rather than taking a wee lend of them for shop window purchases before they head back down to get booted about Walsall’s ground in another move to get them ready for the “greatest league in the world”

However, there isn’t a great deal any fan could have done about this really, no flap of the butterfly’s wings to generate this fork in history, not unless at one of the fan rallies when Bobby Fleeting was describing a brave new future a fan with incredible foresight piped up with the pertinent point that a eighteen thousand seat stadium probably would be a bit big all things considered, maybe just over ten would suffice. Now as a sound bite its not exactly awe inspiring but nonetheless those words stuck in the mind of Mr Fleeting and when it came to the stadium roughly about half a million pounds was saved and put past for players.  Then on that fated day in Manchester when SAF (or AF as he was known then) offered up Oldham’s most famous fan, Alex Totten would say “yes thanks, a million quid is doable” and Killie would have a new number 18.

Eventually 18, most likely an 8 or 10 in the old 1 to 11 system we had then.

97
Scholes (cheek injury swelled his head to 1 and a half times normal) celebrates with his Killie team mates after beating Falkirk 1 nil

So history is changed forever and in the books it read that Paul Scholes signed for Killie and not McKee and Whitworth. Whitworth wouldn’t have scored that 30 yarder at Tanadice and McKee wouldn’t have been utter utter mince in the semi final v Dundee United and subsequently replaced with Gary Holt in the replay. An outcome Scholes wouldn’t have had any effect on due to him being out injured (a broken cheekbone from training, a common Killie training ground injury back then) and missed out on the final which went the exact same way incidentally although Holt played both semis. So Scholes or Scholesy as we would have known him as, by now he would probably be coaching a lower league English club or starring in a Scottish independent film in a non speaking role or driving a taxi or something, I don’t know. At this point you might be thinking that the move ended in a bit of a disaster for him given how his life could have (actually did) turn out.

But he did get a shot at the Champions league, as in 98/99 he came into his own after Christmas when everything seemed to fall apart and his part in the midfield trio of Durrant, Holt and himself took the first SPL title away from Glasgow since Dundee United done so when Jim Mclean managed it with Hamish MacAlpine and a squad of six players or whatever the ridiculous stat is. What a Euro campaign that was, qualifiers then group stages.  100 years of Rugby Park celebrated in the Champions league, Wooft. But that’s a story for another day. Then in 2004 he celebrated his testimonial year with a sell out v Oldham.

Another lovely by product of the move was that in the Scotland England playoff he wasn’t there to score a double at Hampden and as such Scotland went through to the finals of the back of Don Hutchison’s Wembley header. We never got out the group stages though, some things never change.

This never happened. Well it did and it didn’t, read on…

You might be wondering what happened to the other people involved in this transfer back in 94. Well, Man United’s history didn’t change too much, without his goal in the 99 Champions League quarter final the still went through to the semi and then the final in which he missed due to suspension.  In 2005 Quinton Fortune took the second penalty of the FA Cup final and scored meaning the spot kicks went to sudden death but Wes Brown hit one into orbit and the trophy was Arsenals like normal. Also without Scholes in the midfield Juan Veron was a stand out for Man United with Roy Keane and Argentina won the world cup off the back it. I won 50 quid from the sweep I had the Argies in that year on the back of a great tourney from the man the United fans called Little Witch so it was good news all round. England managers also caught a break as they didn’t have to go into every tournament begging Scholes to come out of retirement and as such leaving their actual midfielders feeling undervalued. They still won nothing though which is nice.

Finally, Colin McKee and Neil Whitworth stayed in England and had reasonable careers, I think, I mean I don’t really know because they never appeared on my radar having never actually signed for Killie. Funny how that happens.

So there we have it, one mere flap of the butterfly’s wings back then results pretty much the same for everyone except we get a league win, the Champions League tune played in front of a packed 12000 capacity Rugby Park a trip to the Euros for Scotland. Well everyone bar Scholes himself who didn’t have the career he could have had, but hey, cant keep everyone happy.

Now what would need to happen to make sure that Killie never signed Andy Smith?