Time was, when Follow Follow was in its heyday, which was before the advent of the internet, there were many good writers and great contributions to the fanzine on many a varied theme. Of course everyone has their own individual and particular favourites, Robert Watt, or as he was known in the mag as ‘Little Boy Blue’ or later on participating on the website as ‘LBB’ was one of mine.
Hearing the sad news yesterday on his passing away, whisked me back almost twenty years to match day in The District Bar with ‘The Major’ and his squeeze, ‘The Lovely Anita’. Of course a new issue of the mag coming out would be of special interest for us to see just how much of our frustrations with the side on the park and the dictatorship of Murray off it, the editor would reasonably allow. GS was always under the impression it was orchestrated and synchronised bampottery on our part but it never was. We were bampots in our own right.
Getting a hold of the mag on a match day would see certain rituals involved. A quick skimming through the mag in the pub beforehand to see what and who was going on. Another quick look through at half time. But getting home and after dinner and all was quiet later on the Saturday evening or early in a Sunday morning I’d usually have devoured it.
Little Boy Blue appealed to me because I identified with his thoughts. He was my kind of bear. I asked TM one time if he knew him and the answer was of course, and the next time he was in The District introductions were made. That was us, we were off and running. Just two bears who had the same core values for the club and we both knew a wee bit about the club too.
Now, I never ever saw much of Robert, especially on a match day as he’d have the press shenanigans to attend to before and after and it was very rarely our paths would cross in TD after because usually by that time I’d be on my way home. And that’s how it stayed, just bears who shat in the same woods from time to time.
Which brings us more up to date, when I received a phone call from Mark Dingwall informing me that Robert had contracted Leukemia. Obviously at that point no one knew what was happening and it was such a shock but we resolved to visit Robert as soon as we got the all clear.
So it was one midweek afternoon I was picked up in Glasgow, then Robert McElroy and we went to Cross House hospital in Kilmarnock to see our pal. I have to say I didn’t know what to expect when going to the wards but was pleasantly surprised to see our man sitting up, looking good and looking half in expectation for something extra.
‘Did any of you lot think to bring up a cargo? He said. He was looking more at me I thought. A double whammy m8, I was thinking. There was no way I was going to bring up a half bottle of something to a guy battling such a serious illness. As for expecting Messrs Dingwall or McElroy to do so? The double positive equals a negative sprang to mind; Aye Right! ;-)
Anyway, the pre-match chit chat was first up. How was he feeling, you taking your medicine, how often do you have to take it etc. Robert quickly fired through the answers. What he really wanted to know was how we had played the previous weekend? With that game duly dissected it was on to the match itself.
I don’t know why, perhaps Davie White had been in the news but the topic of conversation seemed to centre on 1967-69 which encompassed all of Davie White’s reign. We started off under Scot Symon mind, and the two missed penalties against the yahoos in the League Cup sectional ties at the start of the season, then Orjan Persson’s mazy goal in the league encounter as well as Auld’s over the ball tackle on Davie Provan. Then the disgusting way in which Scot Symon’s Ibrox career ended.
From there we were at the cesspit at New Year 68 and John Fallon got a special mention too. Then the draws at Tannadice and Cappielow, which did for us in the title run in were discussed. From there the mood brightened with Wee Bud’s goal scoring exploits at the cesspit the following season and the great football the team were playing at times under Davie White.
Then there was the sinister 42 day ban administered to Colin Stein by Kel.. oops the SFA in the run up to the Scottish Cup final. I think Baxter’s comeback match in the League Cup was mentioned before Gornick sounded the end for Davie White. What it also signalled was the end of our visit to see a stricken chum, which flew in. Hospital’s aren’t the best places to while away the hours, they do if the only topic of conversation is Rangers. I don’t know who enjoyed it most. Me or Robert.
The visit didn’t finish there for me, not just yet. When I got home and over dinner my missus asked how Robert was? She had never met him but knew him through me and that I was going to visit him that day. The conversation went something like this.
Mrs G - What medication is he on?
Me - Eh, I think it’s this one
Mrs G - You think? Could it possibly be this one? (She’s quite clued up on her medical stuff)
Me - That’s the one
Mrs G - What is the dosage?
Me - I think it’s every four hours.
Mrs G - So let me get this straight. You went all the way to Kilmarnock to visit a pal in hospital who is battling a very serious illness but you came away not knowing what drugs he was on or how often it is being administered to him? What were you talking about?
Me - The Rangers.
Cue one of those looks which have formed a staple part of my diet throughout marriage. Yon withering look, you know the one full of disgust and disdain, but which you finally get used to. Anyway, I blamed Robert, it was his fault; if he hadn’t started on about Rangers I’d have shut up. But seriously that was Robert. Even though he was battling through this illness, his first love, Rangers, were never far from his thoughts.
As has been said elsewhere, although Robert was something of an authority on Rangers, he had a great knowledge about the beautiful game the world over. The reason Robert could talk a good game is because he knew it inside out.
As Robert battled through his illness and regained his strength things were as they were before. I’d see him now and again outside Ibrox have a couple of minutes of chit chat and then go about our business. It was easier now though, because could communicate more often if we wanted through the website.
So that was that until I received a phone call from MD at the tail end of last year telling me that Robert had caught Pneumonia and had been taken back into hospital. He actually PMed me from hospital during the festive period telling me what was happening, and with the medical side out of the way he duly went onto talk about what he called ‘our mutual obsession’ and the crimes being foisted upon us.
I’ll keep this part brief; to say Robert was less than fond of the boardroom would be an understatement. But that is for another time and place. I will not sully the man’s memory by saying anymore on the subject at this point.
My last ever contact with him was the last weekend in January, and once again he assured me he was feeling good and was just waiting on the all clear as he wanted to fly out to Malta on the Thursday as he couldn’t bear to think what awaited at Hampden the following week. He did add though, that although he didn’t know if he would get the all clear to fly but if he did and the teddies pulled it off you’d hear him singing back in Bridgeton Cross!
So that’s my take on Robert Watt. We were never in each other’s company more than a sprinkling of time and never at any great length. But we were pals. He was my kind of bear. He was also one of the greatest and most knowledgeable Rangers fans it has ever been my privilege to meet.
The pleasure was all mine, Robert.