We talk to Doonhamer, Queens fan and CEO of soft drinks giant AG Barr, Roger White.
"You`re a born and bred Doonhamer?"
“I was born in Dumfries, I grew up in Dumfries, I went to Dumfries High School & then Dumfries Academy. I grew up in Locharbriggs.”
‘I was told that you were a pretty decent footballer in your day.’
“I was never a great player, I was sort of adequate but decent would be over blowing it. I would say enthusiastic and capable, I wouldn’t say any more than that. I was prepared to get stuck in and wouldn’t be particularly bothered about any problems of getting stuck in if you know what I mean, but I wasn’t really a skilful player. I would go for enthusiasm and grit rather than skill.”
“I was a pretty irregular visitor to Palmerston as a youngster, I don’t want to mislead anyone. My attendance at sporting events has accelerated the older I’ve got, some people go the other way round. I wasn’t a massive Queens fan all the way through my life. I wasn’t not a Queens fan, I just wasn’t a particularly big football fan then really.”
White’s ambivalence to sport spectating is now well and truly consigned to the past. As the softly spoken White says himself:-
“I would say that I’ve since had the privilege of going to lots and lots of things from World Cup finals, through to Grand Prix in nice places because of the various things we do work wise, lots of other sporting things, but my best ever sporting event was the Queens – Aberdeen Scottish Cup semi. In everything I’ve ever been to, that was the most excitement and enjoyment I’ve ever had. World Cup Finals, derby games, rugby games, motor racing, whatever it is, I’ve never ever experienced anything like that.”
(Zander Diamond is unable to stop Sean O`Connor putting Queens in front for the third time)
“I went to the game with Stephen Jardine, the two of us went together and I was lucky enough because of our sponsorship work to get us some nice tickets, a bit of hospitality with the SFL guys before hand. But I remember we got in a bus across with Stephen Halliday (like Roger White, Halliday is another Dumfries success story in that he is now also CEO of an international organisation) and Stephen Jardine, and two or three people who weren’t really Queens fans but were coming along for the ‘crack’. We got a little mini bus from Stephen Halliday’s house in Edinburgh and went across there and basically had a fantastic day out. Obviously a really exciting day and we ended up pre-arranged above a bar in Clarkston in Glasgow, a whole bunch of guys who were a couple of years older than me from school, most of whom had come along with their kids. So there was lots of sort of five to ten year olds, and we had a little room up in the top of this pub where we had a few beers and something to eat. It was just unbelievable the atmosphere. There was lots of people who hadn’t seen each other for 20 odd years and the day had brought everybody together.”
“And it was only kind of rivalled by going along then to the final and then I bumped into a few people I hadn’t seen since I was at school, people like Mark Sutherland (the most elephant memoried of Queens fans may remember Sutherland from a short stint on the playing staff as a teenage ball-playing centre-back, around the time of the Drew Busby era. Other names better known to Queens fans from White’s school days include ex QoS players Davie Purdie and Malcolm Adams and also Mark Blount from the 1986 BP Youth Cup semi final victory against Celtic and of course the son of now former chairman Norman Blount. There was also now former manager Ian McCall and behind the scenes, die hard fan Graham Crofts who for example recently assisted with ticketing arrangements for the League Cup game against Rangers).
(Paul Burns and Sean O`Connor challenge Saša Papac with the determined figure of Neil MacFarlane keen to join)
“Mark Sutherland and I bumped into each other at the loo before going to take our seats before kick off and spent as much time as we could, 15 minutes catching up. It was just such,,, the whole kind of semi final and the final was such a community event, it was just,… I don’t know, I’m very proud of my Scottish and my Dumfries heritage, there was just something unique about the experience.”
White’s comments are words of wisdom. He used the very word that perfectly sums up what Queens are all about – community. Events occurred in 2008 that many QoS fans never expected to experience in their life time. For so many, never was it so good to be a Doonhamer.
“I just remember the rush of emotion in the Aberdeen game when it was sort of going, we got one, they got one, we got one, they got one… I just couldn’t believe it and remember looking round at everybody round about us who just could not believe what was going on. It was something really unique and unusual.”
Before signing off this was an opportunity to lay something to rest as fact or urban myth.
‘Is it true that Scotland is the only country in the world where the number one selling soft drink isn’t one of the 2 cola giants?‘
“Its got to be true hasn’t it.”
‘Is it true, it’s Irn Bru?’
“If you ask anybody in the street and they’ll tell you square fair that’s correct.”
‘All the best for the future Roger and for your continued success.’