An appreciation: John Evans pays tribute to his friend Scott Glynn MBE

One of Scottish rugby's most colourful characters passed away on New Year's Day morning after a long, brave battle with cancer

Scott Glynn was one of the life's enthusiasts, who worked tirelessly for charity. Image courtesy of the Glynn family
Scott Glynn was one of the life's enthusiasts, who worked tirelessly for charity. Image courtesy of the Glynn family

“A man’s a man for aw’ that …”

When Robbie Burns wrote that line, Scott Glynn had never been dreamt of, and I’m not sure even The Bard could have conjured up a character as humane, generous, kind, impactful, big (in every sense of the word) and far-reaching as Scott.

“Aw’ that …” in Scott’s case is/was, literally, ‘All’.

As the sun rose on New Year’s Day and the news tumbleweeded through that Big Scott had passed away the feelings of disbelief, anger at one so young and with is much still to offer being taken, grief, sadness and gratefulness across a whole range of communities was palpable, vast and deeply shared. Scott’s life and work touched many and gave to even more. We’ll not see the likes of him again.

He was born in January 1963 in the middle of the worst winter the UK had seen in the 20th Century and yet the boy who emerged that day was to bring warmth and laughter for the next 57 years.

He grew up in Port Seton with his brother and sister, and went on to Preston Lodge High School. By his own admission, he was never the greatest academic but he learnt how to make people laugh, how to act, how folk ticked and developed his love of rugby.

Scott left school to go down the pit and his ability to make friends and colleagues laugh stood him in good stead in the mines. He built a career as an engineer and worked for a number of organisations for the next 30 years or so. When he finally left the profession, he resigned with these words to his boss: “I’m leaving for health and safety reasons … My piggin’ health and your piggin’ safety!” That was Scott – never short of a view.

He met his wife Carol through youth clubs and drama groups and fell in love with the person who was to be his soulmate for the rest of his life. Carol never sought the limelight, always provided support for Scott and the children, and has been the rock on which the Glynn family has been built, and on which Scott leant when illness took its toll.

“Two things stopped me getting a cap for Scotland … a bad knee and a horrendous lack of talent.”

Scott had always been an accomplished performer (except for, by his own admission, on the rugby pitch!) and he became well-known for his after-dinner speaking so he took up this as a full-time profession. He travelled all over the country and overseas delivering his anecdotes and put-downs. ‘The Weegie budgie’ became legendary and was Scott’s encore. You were never sure whether the stories were true or simply the fruits of his imagination, dreamt up whilst he walked his beloved dog and companion Charlie. Who cared? Scott made people laugh and forget their worries. His engagement diary was always full.

He was not just happy to help but went looking for opportunities to do so. The now infamous McGonagall Dinners where everything is in reverse were shaped by Scott. A friend asked him to speak at one to raise funds for a paralysed rugby player  but Scott had an engagement already. “Dinnae’ worry, I’ll come and do yours and speak and then go and dae the other…. I’ll just do without my food; I’ll not let the boy down”. And so the tradition of the after dinner speaker appearing before the starter was born, and Scott’s commitment to others again shone through. He never bragged about his charity work, he simply made it quietly known that he was there to help.

The walks with Charlie and Scott’s compassion were the roots from which the ‘Walk with Scott Foundation’ grew. Scott loved walking and had completed a trek in the Sahara Desert for Maggie’s Centres a few years previously. Now it was Scott’s turn to lead the walk and help local causes, and help he did … in spades. The walks over the past five or six years have raised hundreds of thousands for local causes and have had a massive impact on local lives. Bikes to allow older people to get out in the fresh air, beach wheelchair bikes, strips for local teams, memory pods for people living with dementia … the list goes on.

Scott was recognised for his charity work last year when he was awarded an MBE – an honour that everyone who knew him  took delight in. No one has ever deserved it more. Again, Scott looked to deflect the honour to others and talked endlessly about how his family and friends had helped him achieve the recognition.

Most of the readers of this will know Scott through rugby and it was a passion throughout his life. Scott played for Preston Lodge FP before moving onto Ross High when he moved to Tranent. What he first saw as exile (in his words) soon became his home and Ross High Rugby Club was a huge part of that. Scott played for the club, coached and then became president; leading a turnaround that sees Ross High as one of the great community clubs of Scotland.

Scott loved playing and loved the game. When the Thebans initially set up as Scotland’s first openly gay rugby team, Scott (along with a couple other old heads) played a few games to help ‘manage’ the occasional homophobic remark and show support for the new club. When Gareth, Scott’s son, was in trouble with a referee for a little bit of foul play, Scott, who was also playing, stepped in and said “leave this to me”,  promptly slapped Gareth around the scrum cap and said “stop being an arse and get on with it”!

“I was actually the first professional rugby player in Scotland … Adidas paid me £50 a year to wear Puma.”

Scott developed the Ross High link with Markham RFC in Wales and loved the trips to play against them. Just a few months ago, Scott drove down to a funeral of a Markham stalwart and I’m sure we’ll see the reciprocal gesture made for Scott.

And so the rugby  stories go on … water boy for The Crusaders cancer awareness team, resplendent in his yellow Hawaiian shirt … the blood pouring from Scott’s mouth during a game with a spectator shouting “referee count the opposition, that fat bastard has eaten one”.

Off the field, the acting, the Brunton panto as the baddie, the Tranent shows, the love of Laurel and Hardie, the song of ‘Running Bear’. Running Bear certainly did love Little White Dove with a love big as the sky.

Scott always had time for people. When one friend had told him of his mental health issues and how close he had come to suicide, Scott looked him in the eye and said: “It would have to be some piggin’ size of rope to hold you, you fat bastard… now let’s go and get a cup of tea and talk about what’s worrying you”. That was Scott, humour, kindness, compassion and time for those who needed it.

We all knew Scott but very few knew all of Scott – that honour lies with Carol, Gareth and Lauren, Marion and Stuart. We are all left with great memories of their husband, father and brother and we thank them for letting all of us have a little part of him.

As his great friend and poet Eric Davidson wrote:

So come ma bonnie laddie
Come and walk with me
From the Harbour at Port Seton
To the Sea of Galilee

Scott is on his final walk back to the changing rooms  – it’s been one hell of a trek and so many people along the path are all  the richer in so many ways.


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About John Evans 4 Articles
John has spent his life in grassroots rugby. He played for several clubs, was a founder of the Hearts + Balls charity and is now a referee, referee educator and coach as well as team manager for a youth team. John works as a director with an enterprise organisation.

10 Comments

  1. The man was different class. Had the omeasur to interview him for Radio Saltire, before one of his walks. He will be sadly missed by friendless, family, and the rugby community

    GBNF Rip Scott Glynn

  2. What a lovely fitting tribute to a truly wonderful guy, very special and emotional words. Rest in peace Scott.

  3. A great rugby guy and will be sadly missed.

    Did a fantastic turn at a Grangemouth Dinner a few years ago.

    Rest in peace.

  4. A lovely fella who helped PL greatly when we started doing pre match lunches.Will be very sadly missed by many many people

  5. Sco and I used to swap the jokes we had heard pver the weekend in the pubs and clubs in Tranent before going down the pit. He would occasionally dress in the now famouse Hawaiian shirt (doon the pit mind, it didni get dirty though cos he didni dae much)and he wid wear a white scarf similar to the Monktonhall management ( mainly to take the pee out of them) and carry his lamp on his way in the road, similar to the way Glennie lamps were carried) to make the miners think that a manager was coming in the road. He was a character then and carried that humour through his life. Big nutter’s going to be missed

    • I mind the backbryshers stopping the North Side main belt so that Scott could use it as a stage to audition for there “concert pairty”.there never was a concert pairty and they all disappeared leaving him singing and dancing to an empty North Mine with an Undermanager going mental because all coaling had stopped

  6. A very touching tribute to one of Tranent’s best kent felly’s. Big in presence, even bigger in heart…Scott Glynn MBE…..A gentleman…a truly wonderful human being…God needed another angel fly high and make him laugh…xx

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