'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Figures On The Edge No 2-Michael Hanlon

Michael was one of the predominant figures at The Stair. He was around nine months or so younger than me. Like me he was in the upper median age group of children at The Stair and was a boy who liked to be outside so was a key figure over the period. As a young lad at primary school he was a gentle and likeable lad, who once he got older and went to Firhill Secondary School came more into his own. He was a very sociable boy and enjoyed playing with most of the boys around. In particular he was friendly with the likes of Jonathan Taylor and Colin McFarlane from local Stairs and also Willie Taylor, Jonathan's brother.

Over the years I must have played hundreds of games of football with Michael and also have gone jumping the burn with him in large groups of boys and girls. Michael and a group of boys were quite into Japs and Commandos types of games which didn't appeal to me, so I tended not to be quite so close to that group of lads as he was.

Michael Hanlon (Willie Taylor in background)

Willie Taylor; Michael Hanlon; Keith Robertson; Steve Westbrook
Front Row: Boo-Boo Hanlon; John Duffy; Mark Robertson; and Iain Hoffmann
Once at secondary school Michael was very proactive in organising more formal football matches than we had previously been involved in-he organised matches in which we (Red Star) had take ons again other local street teams-in my diaries I come across references of Michael wants me to play against Joe Rendall's; Kenny Taylor's; Martin Davidson's teams. I won't bore you with the details of the results, but they were close affairs. Apart from myself all these lads were at Firhill. Michael had to alert me to the games asking if I would turn out. I wasn't playing much football by then as I was playing rugby for Boroughmuir Secondary School.

Whilst I enjoyed these matches and ninety minutes of hard effort I sense a growing frustration in some of my diary entries-I was playing in midfield, but covering a lot of the ground, both forward and back and felt that several of my team-mates weren't pulling their weight-I wasn't specifically critical of anyone, but was saying that I had run myself into the ground. Knowing myself that was probably more a reflection of how competitive I was-I was a fair player, most of the time thinly disguising a very steely will to win whereby I would give my all in these games. Others were much more balanced and probably just enjoyed the matches for what they were, giving a certain amount of effort. Michael as the owner of the team was probably the captain which was just as well-he was a far nicer lad than me and I would have been too hard a task-master, unfortunately probably more in the Roy Kean mould!

On one occasion in the autumn there was a period of very heavy rain where the Braid Burn had completely flooded its banks-at Firhill Crescent at the old multi-storeyed fifteen floor villages in the sky playground the water was very deep. A group of us had ventured out in our Wellington boots. I can recall Michael bending over fascinated by the depth of the burn-it must have been eight feet-well I'm ashamed to say that I couldn't resist giving him a nudge with a gentle knee to his backside-well blow me down he toppled straight over and into the water-we all laughed like drains, made worse when he emerged like a drowned rat exclaiming It's nae funny Peter what will ma faither say! I do recall we dried Mike's clothes in front of our fire before he went up The Stair but probably not before he had given me a bloody nose!

Out-with Douglas Blades and Liz Blades, I think Michael was the first member of The Stair to leave school when he went off to join the Royal Navy-in later years I think Michael had spells with the Fire Brigade and the Army too-a life devoted to public service for which he would have been very well suited.

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