A chance meeting but what good company

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Heard the one about the Frenchman, the Greek, the Hungarian and the Scotsman who met in an Ellon pub to watch a rugby match? It’s a true story and I should know, for I was the Scot in the gang of four.

The meeting was a chance one, as I happened to be looking for a seat from which to watch the second half of Ireland versus France in the Six Nations.

I was lucky in my choice of seats, finding myself in the company of an engaging young Frenchman who was similarly interested in the match.

The company soon became four as we were joined by his two friends, one of whom was from Greece and the other from Hungary.

The game soon became a distraction, turning to all things international as you might have expected, given our different nationalities, and all the while the conversation was conducted in English.

The linguistic skills was something to behold, apart from my own, as all of my new found friends were more than comfortable in a second language.

The trio all work in Ellon, and had as far as I could see adjusted to life in the North-east, apart from coming to terms with our weather.

At a time when we Brits spend much time reflecting on those who would take our jobs from foreign parts, I could not help but think how open-minded the three young men were, embracing our local culture with the ease of diplomats, accustomed to such situations.

They were a laugh a minute, and it was with some reluctance that I left the international gathering, but hoping I would meet up with them again.

On the local sporting front, I was privileged to be one of those people who got to know Irvine Morris well in my three years as chairman of the Meadows Trust. In his capacity as Trust secretary since its inception in the early 1990s he was the most reliable of men. His dedication and integrity shining through in all he did.

All through the difficult years at the Meadows - and there have been many - Irvine was a rock of dependability. He will be hard to replace now that he has decided to call it a day at the popular local sports facility.

The former Ellon United player was also known to me as a local sports writer, reporting unfailingly on the club he served so well to this newspaper, and never seeking his byline, or indeed payment for his weekly efforts. A rare breed, telling it as he saw it, and not afraid to report his team’s failings. I just hope he has the happiest of retirements. He certainly has earned it and can leave both posts with the kind of inner glow I enjoyed after my international experience last week.