Well, that was the annual Paisley Rugby Football Club dinner, and another belter it was too. With Peter Wright, introduced by Malcolm Dodd, our esteemed President, as Ex-Scotland and Bristol Lions prop forward (he meant to say British Lion, dear), the night was set to be entertaining, and so it proved. Mr Wright, denizen of Slater's outsize department, proved to be a hoot. After a few jokes at the expense of various PRFC members, starting for some strange reason with me, he got into what we all wanted to hear, the real stories. He was hilarious after that, confirming, by and large, what we already suspected, that some ex-Scotland players were, shall we say, total dicks. Some of the front row antics he described were frankly bladder wrenching.
On to John Cowan, lawyer, raconteur, snappy dresser and all round good egg. He kept us entertained with his descriptions of times past at PRFC. It would appear that John was something of a lad in his younger days, the life and soul of the Tour.
Then came the legend that is, and forever shall be, GTW Newlands. Gav's speech was up to its usual standard. Bloody awful. This was essentially Gav's swan song, since he has announced his retirement and appears to mean it this time. I have already placed an order for a Paisley Legends T shirt, Gav Newlands being the first of the series. I want to remember this evening, if only to serve as a warning never to attend a dinner where Gav is on the list of speakers. Missing you already, Gavin.
With Grant Murney having delivered the Vote of Thanks (we'll gloss over that), it was on to the Player Awards. Young Player of the Year went to Ryan McCready, who had already picked up the Murray Brown Trophy and the title of Club Captain. It's been a great year for Paisley's very own primadonna, he of the sweet temper. He deserves all these awards for his tireless efforts during the season. Next up, Players' Player of the Year was Kevin Browne, explosive back row player who is, unfortunately for us, trotting off to Australia in the autumn. Kevin said of his award, "I came looking for a club and found a family. Playing for PRFC hasn't been a privilege, it's been an honour." He was, of course, very very drunk Most Improved Player went to Scott 'Ted' Glover along with the Captain's Trophy for all his behind the scenes work organising matches and referees, getting strips washed etc. It's to Ted's credit that he immediately acknowledged the role that the old war-horse (he'll love that phrase), Grant Murney has played in his rise to prominence, although Ted himself has proved a willing pupil, with amazing results. Good for you, son. Gav Newlands was presented with the Golden Boot award for being top points scorer, and we were on to the award which gave me the most personal pleasure.
Anyone who attends games regularly will recognise the high-pitched screams which emanate from Al Brodie, in my opinion the heart and soul of the Paisley team. He always leads from the front, both vocally and physically. At training, when lineout drills start to get a bit slack, that voice snaps them back into line. Al has just had the best season I can remember him having, and fully deserves this award. Thanks for the memories Al.
So that was that, all bar the shouting. Drunken players, clutching awards and crying, or crying because they didn't get awards, or crying because they were drunk and it just didn't take much to get them started. Fat ginger guys trying to tuck their raffle prizes under their arms and get clear without breaking any bottles. Pretty much nobody with their dignity intact. And that, my friends, is tradition, just as it should be.