THE Borders town of Langholm was united in grief at the weekend after the passing of rugby legend Christie Elliot (aged 87), who played 12 times for his country, marking his first game for Scotland by kicking a penalty to give his team a 3-3 draw against England at Murrayfield in 1958.
He had been drafted into the side on the morning of the match as a replacement for the flu-stricken Arthur Smith, and those travelling from Langholm to support Scotland were unaware of his involvement until he ran out on to the pitch.
He was a key member of the Langholm team which won the unofficial Scottish club championship and the Border League in 1959, ending the campaign undefeated in the process, before winning their own seven-a-side tournament for the first time in the same season.
Chirstie was a robust, hard-running winger for Scotland and centre for Langholm, who endeared himself to his team mates with his honest endeavour on the pitch, while away from the game he was a modest, considerate man who had time for everyone he spoke to.
He also played numerous times for the South of Scotland, including against Australia in 1957 when they lost 12-6, against South Africa in 1960 when they lost 19-3, and against New Zealand when they lost 8-0, and he captained the Scottish Districts side which beat South Africa 16-8 at Mansfield Park in 1965.
He was a prolific place-kicker, stunning many a visiting team at Milntown with his long range penalties over the 25 years he turned out for Langholm between 1947 and 1972. It is estimated that he scored over 2,000 points in over 1,000 games of rugby played throughout his career.
But while Christie will be recalled by the rugby fraternity as a player of great note, he will be remembered just as much for his downright decency as a human being in all parts of his native Borders, and fondly thought of in Aberdeen by former Scotland scrum-half Ian Macrae who played with Christie’s brother Tommy in a famous 6-3 win in Paris in 1969.
“I had so many friends in the Borders it took me a week to drive through them, but the greatest pleasure was to go to Langholm,” said Macrae. “Christie was one of the nicest guys I have ever met in the game.”
Up until recently, the 87-year-old Christy was a regular at Langholm home games, offering his advice to young players in the company of his effervescent and outgoing wife, May.