a tribute to fergie
When regulars at Ayr’s Wee Windaes pub gathered after the passing of one of their own, the mourners included retired journalist and PR man, Iain Ferguson, and former Scotland national football team manager, Craig Brown.
As happens with most post mortem pub conversations, the melancholy was peppered with phrases like, “You never know what’s in front of you…” and “Aye… you never know who’ll be next…”
In dreadful, tragic circumstances, it turned out they would both be ‘next’.
Craig passed away on June 26 and my lifelong friend, ‘Fergie’, was taken from us just a handful of weeks later.
Fergie and I started our journalism careers at the same time and in the same way – junior reporters for local newspapers. We’d regularly bump into each other – in the press box at Somerset Park or on the press bench at Ayr Sheriff Court – and soon became firm friends.
It was clear even in those early days that Fergie was a class act, with ample ambition to match his abundant ability.
He rose to become editor of four local Ayrshire titles before his instinct for a good story attracted the attention of the biggest paper in the country, the Scottish Daily Record.
The press awards he collected were a testament to his skills in news gathering, and the promotions he received were in recognition of his skills at man management.
When I finally joined him at Anderston Quay, he was an invaluable colleague with probably the greatest ‘contacts book’ in the country.
A special memory is the time we were both ‘Assistant Editors’ and shared the same office. In a parody of Liverpool FC’s famous tunnel message, ‘This is Anfield’, Fergie stuck a ‘This is Ayrshire’ sign above the door!
Apart from a good story – and a good claret! – Fergie’s other pursuit was horse racing.
When he decided to ‘retire’ from The Record, what better position to take than becoming the PR executive at Ayr Racecourse? Talking horses all day… writing about them… and getting paid for it! Fergie was in his element – and the drive home to his much loved wife, Elaine, became minutes rather than hours.
Even when he retired from his retirement job last year, Fergie still wanted to write. And – for too brief a time – this magazine regularly featured his by-line.
His packed funeral service – led by his niece, former First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon – underlined his lifelong worth to the family, colleagues and friends he left behind.
He will be long remembered and sadly missed by all of them.