Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Service for Coco

Colin was given a send off in a charming service led movingly by his sister Jane at Mortonhall Crematorium. With numbers strictly limited, 6 Crossers were in attendance: Shifty, Mahmood, JB, King, Smudger and Charlie (many thanks to Smudger for liaising with the family and ensuring the the Cross were really well represented). 

Jane affectionately detailed his childhood love of words games and music and his mischievous sense of humour. She went on to describe his supportive and caring side and read from a story that Colin regularly read to her children. Fairport Convention's Who Knows Where The Time Goes? was a moving choice of song as we were invited to think of our own personal memories of Coco (my mind drifted to an image of Colin, fag in hand, rolling the wicket in the evening sunshine...). 

Both Jane and Colin's wife Anne thanked all those who had sent cards and who had left comments online about Colin since his death.  Shifty (looking more like McGill with every passing day!) gave a superb eulogy (as previewed on the HX blog) which captured Colin's character -and his ability to make us all laugh- wonderfully well. We left the chapel to the strains of the TMS theme Soul Limbo which ended proceedings on an uplifting note. It's just a pity that so few people were allowed to attend- the place would have been thronged with East League cricketers in normal times.  Colin's wife Anne hopes we can have a celebratory match at Arboretum in Colin's honour. Hopefully things will ease enough to allow us to hold such an event sometime this summer. 

With Hugh & Colin dying within a few months of each other, it’s clearly a sad time for the club. They were-I’m sure people would agree- very different characters, though they had a shared passion for cricket and statistics. In their different ways they both characterised the spirit of the club and its ability to contain within it a wide variety of personalities. With Colin’s passing we’ve certainly lost one of our great characters though he will long be remembered by us all and those he spent time with on and off the field.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Coco Obituary

As published in the Evening News on 12.5.20.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Colin "Coco" McGill

Shifty writes -

Cantankerous. Belligerent. Opinionated. A braggart. A fantasist. A soak.

All true. And it all bounces off. The other side of the ledger outweighed it all. He was all those things, yes, but in the best and most humane sort of way. And often the funniest. There will be many stories told in the wake of Coco's passing which will bring back memories of his power to entertain, wittingly or not. I look forward to being reminded of many. But I'd rather not reminisce about igniting trouser pockets or lascivious lido legends but instead recall the McGill I knew and loved, the man and his character.

As I write this, I am slightly the worse for wear, which is fine because that is how I knew Colin. We were rarely both sober together - just long enough to play a game of cricket - before we corrected the situation. I think this is why he and I were enduringly fond of each other, kindred naughty boys. I had the privilege of spending thirty years under his wing, and I witnessed the evolution of a corinthian hero.

I first met him soon after arriving at Holy Cross from university in 1992. I was told I needed to speak to "the beardy alcoholic holding up the bar". I didn't have to look for long. As a student I'd scored more pints than runs, so meeting Colin immediately made me feel at home and in my element. Like anyone meeting McGill for the first time, it didn't take me long to realise he was a man of big appetites. Some disapproved. I revelled in it.

He was also, clearly, a very social animal, which I believe is why cricket was the game for him, and Holy Cross the cricket club. It was a simple but happy formula. With cricket came booze, with booze came banter, with banter came friendship. And the whole package was entirely to his taste. That so many people consider themselves Colin's friend is testimony enough to his own engaging and accepting brand of persona. I think it also explains why he gave his heart and soul to the Cross, through thick and thin. He and Holy Cross were conjoined by their shared nature and values.

There is much to be said about Coco's avuncular warmth and generosity with his time and wisdom, but at the bottom of it all he made is laugh. From the pithy curse in the slips to the manic rants in the bar, he always had something to say and it was either funny, filthy or both. The tall tales, the wild exaggerations, even the bare-faced lies were all part of a brilliantly honed act, and I believe Coco always knew he was there to perform for us. It was another form of giving, which we used to lap up. Because we knew, in the midst of each expletive-laden tirade against whatever inept performance or umpiring fiasco had raised his ire, that that gruff chuckle was never more than a few seconds away. That within moments of dismissing someone as a "useless c**t", his cackling laughter would be ringing around the Green Room again.

There is one anecdote that springs to mind which makes the point. Coco, in his infallibility, had given Dennis Cartwright out LBW and Dennis, in revenge, had swiped McGill's fags. The apoplexy in McGill's soul was truly epic. The rage was murderous. I feared for Dennis's future. But once Coco had unloaded the full measure of his bile on Dennis, the clouds parted, glasses were raised and the banter returned. Because Coco couldn't hold a grudge. He was always a paper tiger. In fact, harsh criticism was only half of it. No one has mastered the act of the foul-mouthed compliment like Colin. He would often leap to the defence of the slighted, reassuring them that they were "too f**king talented" or "not f**king stupid enough" to have done anything wrong. I saw him use this trick to raise the confidence of many a young player, in the process building bonds which made him so dear to so many.

His other natural element was, of course, the cricket pitch. We all know that Coco's commitment bordered on the obsessive. He would play whenever asked, wherever, in whatever conditions, with anyone. His love of the game was an example to everyone and in his devotion to the club he put us all to shame. When no one else would captain the midweek team, Colin would. "Aye, alright, go on then", he would grumble, pretending that he didn't secretly relish the chance. How many times did he catch the bus to Arbo to roll the square? He might moan about being dropped to the thirds, but he never said no.

He was also an impeccable sportsman. Rather too much in the eyes of some of his teammates as they watched his finger go up. He was every inch the competitive cricketer but also knew what friendly cricket is. An unselfish captain, he used the third eleven and midweeks to give everyone a chance and to bring on youngsters, when he had them and to give them an example in sportsmanship and fairness. He was much more apt to sledge his own teammates than any of he opposition, and with good reason at times.

Some may say that Colin had delusions about his own abilities, and he certainly made some hefty boasts over the years - his virtual hat-trick will endure forever. But I would recall that when he made a comeback for the first eleven in the 1990s he more than held his own and made a large personal contribution to a string of good seasons for the club. He proved wrong anyone who thought he was a self-centred cricketer and showed himself a very disciplined and capable bowler, and as his captain he did me proud. Whether on the pitch, in the nets, working on the ground or captaining, Colin was never less than admirably wholehearted, for which the club owes him a great debt.

I don't think it's unfair to describe Coco as a rough diamond. A cliche, for sure, but in his case the flaws only made the sparkle brighter. They were small flaws.

And so he departs, leaving a little less spark in our lives, for the great score box in the sky, where I can see him telling Richie Benaud how to bowl a proper leg break. I imagine him sitting with other past Crossers over Arbo, drinking his celestial nippie-sweeties, talking shite and swearing at the antics below. I look forward one day to joining him when my time comes.

Colin McGill. Intelligent. Articulate. Devoted. A sportsman. A gentleman. A legend. RIP.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Colin 'Coco' McGill 1944-2020.

Really sad news that one of the great characters of Holy Cross ACC and East League cricket, Colin 'Coco' McGill, has died, aged 75.

A Crosser for over forty years, a swing bowler of guile, captain of the 2nds and 3rds, long-time match secretary, club statistician, umpire, groundsman, raconteur. A fierce competitor but a sporting man. Most of all, our friend. Arbo will not be the same without him and his tales of great exploits on and off the pitch..
Our thoughts will be with his Ann & his family.... and our minds full of improbable accounts of exploding trousers, virtual hatricks, Portobello Swimming Pool, Ray Joseph etc etc.
Personally he was something of a bowling mentor, teaching me how to swing the ball using legal techniques (though he introduced me to some alternative methods in the nets!). I fondly recall his friendly rivalry with my Dad, Ellis Snr-both keen to be the 3rds top wicket taker. McGill would chunter when taking a slip catch off Ellis Snr...'damn, you're 2 ahead now..I should've dropped it!'.

I last saw him at Hugh's funeral. Colin was uncharacteristically pessimistic about his health but still full of the classic tales. I'm glad I (along with Smudger) had one final pint with him that day-
in the Old Bell (where else!). 

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Arbo During Lockdown

Will we see a ball bowled, struck or caught dropped there this season?

Friday, 31 January 2020

Hugh Kilpatrick 1933-2020

A substantial contingent of HCACC members were in attendance at Mortonhall Crematorium today (31.1.20) as we said goodbye to one of the club’s founder members and most significant figures- Hugh Kilpatrick.
Hugh’s son Tony gave a superb eulogy describing how it was only as he became older that he became fully aware of his Dad's true qualities and abilities. He talked of Hugh’s enthusiastic clarinet playing which tended to keep the whole household up at night-all part of his deep love and knowledge of jazz (the service ended with a lovely bit of Sidney Bechet). This dedication and desire for knowledge was something he took into his work and hobbies. After spells as a civil engineer in Guyana and Sierra Leone he spent many years as a systems engineer for IBM- in Edinburgh and London. According to IBM colleague Roger Thomas 'Hugh was "famous" for arriving at the IBM Edinburgh office and spending some 15 minutes in the library completing the Times crossword over a cup of coffee to set himself up for a good day's work'. His addiction to crossword puzzles would continue till his last months.
He was of course dedicated to Holy Cross and to East League cricket (serving as president of the ESCA). After a very successful playing career (including a period as first team captain) he continued to be involved with the club- right up till his final months. For many seasons he was a regular attendee at Arbo-often in the company of Alan Reid, supporting the team from the boundary edge. Hugh built up a superb archive of club material and his computer records include every first team match since the club’s foundation (the 1st match was an away match at Colinton Mains in 1950)- a truly remarkable resource for the club, which hopefully can be transferred and updated.
Above all he was proud of his children and wider family - for his son his finest achievement was caring for his wife Sheila as she suffered from dementia. He’ll clearly be much missed by his family, HX club members and all those who knew him.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

2s stay up but 1s go down - results 24.08.19

Euan reports:

Under sunny skies, the season came to a close in contrasting styles:

The 1s scraped together 8 players plus a late recruit from the rugby club who fancied a short break from the BBQ to take on Carlton 3s. Ziggy blasted a few boundaries to help us get to 73, and the bowlers ran in with purpose - Shannon taking a couple of wickets, Pradeep and Matt Bywater on his long-awaited return with one each - but it was always something of an uphill task. On the plus side, plenty of time was left over afterwards for some long overdue boundary golf.

The 2s, however, set a precedent for cricketing great escapes this weekend. After their opener skied the first ball of the match to slightly surprised-looking Euan Hunter at cover, Livingston made a competitive 144 on a slightly tacky wicket, wickets being shared between most of the HX bowlers (Gerry getting 2) among some fairly economical bowling figures (especially Sandeep - 0 for 11 off 6).

In reply, Nipun and Robin put on 53 opening, with Robin contributing 40.  After 5 wickets fell for 32 runs, Euan Hunter blasted a rapid 29 (we'll ignore reports that most of those were scored off small children) to drag the score up to 120.  After Euan's demise, Vik and Sai put on 19 (Sai contributing a Leach-esque 1) before Keith came to the wicket to help Vik over the line, flaying 4 through the keeper's legs in the process to cue celebrations and a fine way to finish. A nervous wait ensued before Murrayfield DAFS Twitter account confirmed that the defeat of their 3s at Dunnikier meant HX 2s would live to fight another year in Div 5!