Ever since I was old enough to understand these things I always wanted to win the Chieftain’s Trophy at the great Aboyne Highland Games.
To qualify for that you have to win at least one point in the heavyweight events and at least one in the running and leaping.
The senior trophy at Aboyne is the Dinnie Trophy for heavyweights, but the Chieftain’s Trophy is regarded by many as the blue riband as it truly reflects the tradition that the Games athlete should be an old-rounder. It was won for seven consecutive years by Jay Scott of Loch Lomond.
Then in 1957 it was taken by Bob Aitken of Auchenblae, who held it for ten years until, to everyone’s surprise, I won it in 1968. It was a good win too, because I joined Jay Scott s one of the two athletes to get first prizes in both sections, even if those prizes were only halves. I was first equal in the high jump and first equal in the caber.
To say I was pleased would be a gross understatement, but in the highland games you are not expected to punch the air, hug people, run to the crowd for their adulation or to cry. So my main feeling was of panic- how would I contain myself and avoid letting myself down? I had to seem pleased but not bumptious. I had to insist that the better man had lost. Whatever was happening on the inside, I had to remain cool on the outside. That is how it should be at the highland games and that is how I was.
However I had come up from Glasgow in the train and when I got back to its anonymity for the return journey, I cried like a baby. Now the Cheiftain’s Trophy comes in a large solid wooden box. I sat it on the table in front of me and let go. I must have been a sorry sight, for I became aware that everyone was looking at me sympathetically. A kind old lady came up and asked if it was the remains of some loved one in the box and if it would help to talk about it. I hadn’t the heart to tell her that these were tears of triumph.
From ‘Them That Live The Longest’ by Charlie Allan published by Birlinn Ltd at £16.99
Donald Dinnie- The First Sporting Superstar by David Webster & Gordon Dinnie is published by Ardo Publishing at £12.95
Both are available at Yeadons of Banchory at a special offer of just £10 each.