The passing of the Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie

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By Mark Dingwall

I didn’t ‘know’ Stuart MacQuarrie in the way you know most friends – never met his family, never visited his house – we were thrown together through Rangers – and we talked about Rangers and despaired about Rangers and laughed about Rangers.

He was a Man Of The Left – proud of his working class roots but not hidebound by them – he didn’t indulged in inverted snobbery.   He was proud of his part in organising Mandela’s visit to Glasgow – as I was a founding member of Conservatives Against Apartheid we had some interesting discussions on the future of South Africa!  His time in the Labour Party and the Church of Scotland prepared him with all the dark arts needed to skilfully negotiate committees – the need to read and understand paperwork before a battle is not a task many properly conquer, he did, and he used it well.

He was clearly thrilled that acting as Chaplain to Rangers gave him access to players, directors and fans but he never abused the position – he gave freely and well of his time.   He had the marvellous skill of being able to minister to his flock even if they were not believers – the gentle skill of delivering comfort and advice in the worst of times.

In church affairs he wasn’t full-on Iona Community but he wasn’t far off it – yet he tolerated other views.  At a Sons Of Struth dinner Manfromdelmonte and I shared a table with him – Delmonte was holding forth about the errors of the Church of Rome  and the weakness in doctrine of the Church of Scotland.  Stuart listened patiently and said “But Simon – you must accept that the RC Church of today is not the same as it was four hundred years ago”  – No said Simon “It’s worse!”   Stuart loved that story.

He was of an age to remember what the Catholic Church was like before the reforms of Vatican II and that meant he could weigh up better than most the faux fanaticism for religion displayed by many Celtic fans.   I wouldn’t put words in his mouth but he seemed to think the worst of it was over.  Likewise, he disagreed with me over the Orange Order, he just didn’t see that it was relevant.

I couldn’t tell you exactly who his favourite player was – he seemed to like them all – even the duff ones.   During the struggle for survival and then against the Spivs he was a source of wise counsel – always in favour of strong action when needed and dismissive of fads and fashions.

Late morning seemed to be his favoured time for a chat.  He’d ring and I’d settle down for an hour of fun and wisdom.   He always had a cheery disposition even when tackling tough topics.   If he wasn’t sure of something he’d take soundings and invite you to challenge his views.   When he was serious he was a devastating player – his resignation from Club 1872 and his mastery of minutes, times, dates and procedure was a case in point – – he sat and pondered on that for months.

At the end he was told that the malady which would take his life was treatable but not curable – he could have five months or five years.  Sadly he was taken early.   I have no doubt he will meet his Maker with the same cheerful disposition he displayed here on earth.

And now, alone in the majesty of death, he receives from friend and occasional foe alike that most beautiful of tributes – he was a gentleman.

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