As an indication of the passion for golf in the Coltart clan, Andrew Coltart was registered as a member of Thornhill Golf Club before he was even born. With his years of dedication having paid off, Coltart has carved out a highly respectable career in the professional golfing ranks. To pick out a few from his list of achievements he has:-
• Twice won the Australian PGA Championship and once ended the season at the top of the Order of Merit for the PGA Tour of Australasia
• Twice finished in the top 10 in the end of season Order of Merit for the PGA European Tour
• Won the Qatar Masters and the Great North Open
• Represented Europe in the Ryder Cup where he played head to head against one Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods
• Represented Scotland on numerous occasions in World Cup and Dunhill Cup golf
Impressive enough as this is, Coltart’s interest in sport is not limited to the one of his chosen profession. That he has on occasion been spotted at Palmerston Park is no coincidence – since his childhood he is a self confessed Queen of the South fan.
Before progressing to the content of the interview, it would be remiss not to speak highly of Andrew Coltart for his assistance in this feature. To put some context on this; as a professional golfer Coltart’s over-stamped passport could arouse debate that he is from the same gene pool as Alan Whicker and Judith Chalmers (while there will no doubt be a pilot or flight attendant or the like out there somewhere from Dumfries, Coltart would otherwise be a reasonable candidate as the best travelled Doonhamer in history, even at the tender age of 39). In the UK for the British Open in July 2009, although Coltart was not competing this year in what is essentially the world championship of links golf, he was occupied with the other role for which he has become best known in the public eye – providing astute expert analysis to accompany John Inverdale and co on BBC Radio 5 Live. An interview request was made to Andrew Coltart and a series of events followed that was similar to when Stephen Jardine was approached by qosfc.com – a game of message tag ensued as both parties missed each other on numerous occasions. However the commitment of the intended interviewee to the article was clearly articulated to us and sure enough the proposed dialogue went ahead (in Coltart’s case, the morning after the Open ended).
Clearly passionate about Queen of the South, Andrew Coltart was absolutely brilliant with us for this interview. Good natured through out, this is what he had to say to us.
Coltart – “I was born in Dumfries, I’m a Doonhamer, I was born in Cresswell. I grew up in Thornhill 14 miles up the road”
“As a professional sportsman you must have a lot of genetics in your favour. What were you like as a footballer?”
“I played, it wasn’t called county level, I played for the district, I played for Upper Nithsdale and stuff like that at school. You’ll maybe like this one; there was a 5 a side team, we were all about 10, 11, 12 years old and our name was The Wombles and we won the Guid Nychburris tournament two or three times, so we were all right, we were quite handy.”
It was fascinating listening to a sportsman who has made a long career for himself with the world’s elite speaking about a 5 a side football competition from his boyhood. While Coltart’s choice of words of ‘all right’ and ‘quite handy’ indicate modesty and a realistic appreciation of the competition referred to, there was no doubt from the pitch and tone of Coltart’s voice that this success, in a local 5 a side football competition from his childhood, still gave him a quiet sense of satisfaction. It was also interesting to note that despite now being a professional in an individual sport, and being asked a question about his individual capabilities as a footballer, Coltart’s reply stressed the team nature of football; “WE were all right, WE were quite handy”. The other ex players in The Wombles FC, feel free take a bow.
“What position did you play when you played football?”
“I was defence.”
“What sort of defender were you? Were you a sort of elegant Alan Hansen, stroll around Mr Composed, or were you more a Claudio Gentile, take-no-prisoners hatchet man?” This question seemed to trigger a certain image or two in the Coltart memory banks as at this point he burst into raucous laughter.
“More of a dirty big farmer with a big boot that gave it a hump,” responded a nostalgic Coltart.
Next as testament to the often unlikely things that make impressions on us when we are young, Coltart spoke of an unusual memory of Queens and his childhood. “A friend’s father took his son and myself to watch Queens. We didn’t win unfortunately. Allan Ball was in goals and I remember him catching the ball at one stage and rolling it around the top of his head.”
Coltart then added, “The biggest thing that sticks out in my mind is recent and the best thing that Queens ever done was the final of the Scottish Cup last year. The two goals that the boys scored just after half time were just incredible. I was running round like a bloody lunatic in my sister in law’s front lounge wondering what the hell’s going on. Jim Thomson’s been fantastic as a leader and his durability and stoicism in defence has been tremendous over the years.”
(Stevie Tosh directs the ball past Steven Whittaker and Neil Alexander to pull back the first of Queens` two cup final goals)
Coltart’s next comments gave away that clearly, very clearly, he has an excellent relationship with former Open Champion, Paul Lawrie. Friendly banter and ribbing is alive and well on the professional golf circuit.
“Aberdeen in the semi, listen, Paul Lawrie who was the Open Champion, I was giving him dog’s abuse for that result because he’s an Aberdeen fan, that was brilliant, I got plenty of enjoyment out of that one, I was never going to let that one drop, that’s for sure.”
Lawrie’s reaction to the game was the same as many Queens fans at Hampden will remember of his fellow Aberdeen supporters in defeat - warm and magnanimous. Lawrie also acknowledged the good nature of the friendship between himself and Coltart when he said on his website, “We were all down at Hampden for the semi final against Queen of the South, it wasn`t the result we were after but Queens played well and probably deserved their victory. Good luck to them in the final. Andrew Coltart is a Queen of the South fan so you can imagine the texts and calls I`ve had.
(John Stewart decides to blast it first time and its a 4-3 semi final victory to QoS)
Coltart continued, “People always see Queen of the South when the ticker tape runs through on TV or when they run through the scoreboard but nobody has come across too many of the fans. When I’ve gone on tour and particularly as a ‘Jock’, I always get asked, ‘Is your team Rangers or Celtic?’ I say, ‘No, it’s neither, it’s a team called Queen of the South’”
That’s the spirit Andrew.
“After 17 years there’s a lot more folk that actually sit back and check Queens’ results, mainly in the hope that they can pull my leg and take the mickey out of me.”
Could this be the seed of Coltart enjoying his humour with Paul Lawrie?
“They’ve been doing quite well for a while now though. Last year they were doing well for about the first third of the season then they got themselves into a bit of a slump. Sometimes when the pressure is really on, they seem to manage to pull it out - I don’t know what it is just lately but when they have been under a bit of pressure; I’m talking about the last three or four years, in the run in to the tape. I love to see them do well and anybody that does well from our neck of the woods, it’s great, and Queens have given a lot of people a lot of good memories over the years.”
Coltart of course is spot in his analysis; in each of the last four seasons Queens have hit a vein of very discomforting form at some point during the season but have always managed to turn it around to remain in the First Division with varying degrees of time to spare.
Queens have done well over the years from Thornhill with both Coltart and opera singer Nicky Spence among the QoS fans from there. 1950s wing wizard, Bobby Black, also hails from the town. However, benefiting from Thornhill isn’t exclusive to Queens as Coltart’s sister, Laurae, is married to another pro golfer, Lee Westwood. Coltart tells us that as of yet Westwood (a keen fan of Nottingham Forest) is still to make it to a QoS game. There are also others on the pro golf circuit with connections to South West Scotland.
“Luke Donald, I believe his father is from Stranraer?”
Coltart started his next sentence by saying, “Well,” before briefly we were in pin drop territory as the question registered in Coltart’s consciousness.
“Is that right?” asked the surprised Coltart.
Coltart then commented, “Do you know what, I played golf with him three weeks ago and he said he was half Scottish and for some reason I didn’t pursue it. I thought he was talking about second or third generation. You always get folk going on, and they want to be Scottish, you know.”
“Don’t I just know it.”
“I didn’t know his father was from Stranraer.”
“His dad is definitely from Stranraer, I’ve read it in too many places for it to be a hoax.”
“Is that right?” asked Coltart a second time. “I’ll have to check that out with him as well then. If he’s from Stranraer, his old boy, he’s maybe a Stranraer fan then.”
“Get him along for a Queens v Stranraer derby one of these days, a bit of golfing rivalry on the terraces there.”
Coltart – “It could be a wee while before Stranraer get back to the dizzy heights that Queens are playing at,” commented Coltart with some sobriety. The financial crisis of the Stair Park club is something no club would want to be under.
Next, the latest pro golfer born in Dumfries:
“Young Robert Dinwiddie, I believe that he was born in Dumfries before he moved down to North East England?
“That’s right, Robert was, yeah. We’ve played together a couple of holes and I’ve told him who I support obviously, he knows about that. I’m not entirely sure of how much he supports Queens.”
“Have you ever played golf with any of the Queens players in any pro-ams or anything like that?”
“I haven’t, I left the area in 1995 and lived down in the South of England until 2006, and I just came back home to Scotland in the last 3 or 4 years. I live in Edinburgh now.”
“What about future plans? I’ve listened to you on Radio 5 this week and I’ve heard you on Radio 5 before. Is that where you’re planning to take your career or are you planning to play further competitive golf?”
“Ideally, and particularly after watching that old beggar [Tom] Watson at 59 years old still playing, I think I’d be pretty daft to say I’m ready to jack it in when I’m only 39 years old. Ideally, I’ve got my tour card back, I’m trying to guarantee my tour card for next year, hopefully I can win one of the tournaments in the run up to the end of the season. I still have ambitions to get out of this game what I think I am capable of getting out of it but at the same time you can’t go on for ever.”
So there you have it: Andrew Coltart; professional golfer, media pundit and Queen of the South international ambassador. Good work Andrew and all the best for future.