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
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.