by Jack Nixon
ALISDAIR ‘PORKY’ WEMYSS would have appreciated the occasion on a bright, cloudless afternoon which featured a top of the league clash, followed by a Cup Final, at Highland Rugby’s state-of-the-art stadium and watched by a huge turnout of local rugby supporters.
But for most in the big crowd, it was also an opportunity to say a last farewell to Porky Wemyss, a club legend who sadly passed away on Thursday 10th January, aged 62, after a life time of devotion to the club he served with distinction both on and off the field.
Club President Alastair McKenzie paid his fulsome respects in the match programme, outlining the acclaimed prop’s career over the period from 1972 to 1992 and right up to the time of his untimely death, by which point he was a respected member of the Highland coaching team.
“The death of Porky Wemyss has cast a shadow over proceedings at Canal Park where he was a club stalwart,” said McKenzie. “The majority of his playing career was at the time of Highland’s greatest success when the club was in the top flight of club rugby in Scotland. His playing ability was recognised by the North & Midlands, for whom he played on numerous occasions, but perhaps his biggest contribution to the club was after head coach Dave Carson wisely appointed him to the current coaching team. He may not have been big in stature, but he was large in heart, giving no quarter, while expecting none. He was a respected member of the Inverness community. Our thoughts will be with Val and the family at his funeral on Thursday January 24 when there will be another huge turn out,” said president McKenzie.
On the pitch, Porky would have been disappointed by the fact of Highland losing out to Biggar in their top of the table game in National League Two, but wholly appreciative of the total commitment of both sides. The Borderers just shaded the match, easing past the home side 12-10 in a game in which both front-rows were prominent throughout, including the efforts of veteran Highland hooker Kevin Brown.
“We so desperately wanted to win, but it was a difficult day out there,” said the former club captain. “I like to think Porky would have appreciated the no-holds-barred nature of the game. He was a mentor to many of us over the years.”
There was a fitting end to the afternoon as Highland Raptors cruised to a 36-0 victory in the final of the Brin Cup at the expense of Kinloss Eagles, making for an emotional climax to an afternoon in which Porky was the talk of the town.
Among those who had made the trip to Canal Park to pay his tribute was Kevin Wyness, an old adversary from the 1980’s. “Porky was not only the foe, he was a friend to all he played against – he was a legend at a great club,” said the former Aberdeen Grammar, Aberdeenshire and Ellon coach.”