TRIBUTES have been paid to an icon of Junior football who passed away last week.

Hugh Blair was born yards from the ground of what was then Neilston Victoria Football Club and later began a decades-long association with the club, right up until the last match days before he died on January 8.

Born on August 2, 1935, at number 6 Brig O’Lea Cottage, he had a prime view of a game he loved to watch but never played.

A former pupil of Neilston Primary, Hugh later worked with his father for a period in the village, helping out at his slating and plastering business.

Hugh then set off for a couple years of National Service with the RAF, based in Grimsby, before returning to the family home and taking an office job with the former Bass Brewery, in Glasgow.

Barrhead News: Hugh Blair, second from left, back row, at a Neilston Juniors function in the Glen Halls in 1964Hugh Blair, second from left, back row, at a Neilston Juniors function in the Glen Halls in 1964

In 1967, he met his future wife Mary at her sister’s wedding. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2017.

Their daughter, Elaine, would often get pulled in to Hugh’s immersion in the club and her husband Bernie would sometimes take Hugh to matches in his later years when he couldn’t drive himself.

Though he moved within the village, he wanted to stay in Neilston.

The family told the Barrhead News: “He has always been steeped in the club. He just got so immersed and it stayed with him through his whole life. He was a local boy and a local man.

“He was a man for Neilston alright.”

Graham Walker, president of Neilston Juniors’ management committee, said Hugh began an association with the club not long after it formed in 1945.
Hugh nurtured the great atmosphere at the club, with much of his time spent as match secretary.

Graham said: “Within Junior football, he was a bit of a legend. His knowledge of the rules was tremendous. He could tell you what happened in games going back decades.

“He enjoyed the football and atmosphere at the club. He was always there, he hardly missed a game.”

The club created the Hugh Blair Trophy more than a decade ago to honour Hugh’s connections to Neilston football and it will continue to be a legacy into the future.

Hugh’s funeral service takes place at Woodside Crematorium, in Paisley, at 4pm on Friday, January 17.