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Tain club arrange double-memorial match to remember football stalwarts

By Niall Harkiss

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An amateur football club in Tain will pay tribute to two of its greatest "legends" later this month when they host a special double-memorial match.

Members of Tain Thistle Football Club will gather for a chance to "share memories" and "reconnect" on Sunday, March 31 as they honour the memories of Garry Perks and Graham Macrae – with two memorial cups on the line.

Garry Perks, pictured with grandfather Wattie Louden and brother Liam Perks.
Garry Perks, pictured with grandfather Wattie Louden and brother Liam Perks.


A select team of youngsters are preparing to take on a group of veterans from yesteryear as the club contest both the Graham Macrae Memorial Quaich, and a new trophy – the Rose Bowl – dedicated to the memory of former player, Garry Perks, who tragically died after being struck by lightning on a Florida beach in 2019, aged just 32.

First turning out for the Tain club on May 1, 2004, Perks was a prolific forward player, scoring a total of 81 goals in 91 starts.

Despite his young years, he showed no fear making the step up to the semi-professional level, notably scoring twice from the half-way line in one season for Brora Rangers in the Highland League.

His footballing prowess eventually took him to the United States, where he competed for collegiate sides in Georgia and Iowa.

It was in United States that he would become dad to his two children, Addison and Enzo.

The Rose Bowl was donated by former teammate and life-long friend, Steven Martin.

Paying tribute to his best friend, Mr Martin said: "Our weekends were spent on the Links pitches in Tain, with 20 something young boys, who would be fine-tuning their skills from morning until night, returning home only when it became too dark to see the ball, followed by a regular pit stop at Garry’s gran and grandad’s on Morangie Road for a refreshment and a yarn from Wattie (Louden).

"Garry was a tremendous individual – funny, caring and always there to support his mates. The centre of attention and the life of the party.

"He was always up for a laugh and regularly the instigator of a practical joke. You would be hard pushed to find anyone with a bad word to say about him – defenders and goalkeepers of the opposition excluded, of course.

"I grew up with him in a time before mobile phones and games consoles became the norm. Riding bikes, camping, playing football.

"I was fortunate enough to call him my best friend."

Graham "Peeps" Macrae enjoying a match with fellow committee member Norman MacAngus at their joint-testimonial in 2010.
Graham "Peeps" Macrae enjoying a match with fellow committee member Norman MacAngus at their joint-testimonial in 2010.

The occasion will also serve as an opportunity for the club to remember Graham "Peeps" Macrae, who died in 2015.

The Graham Macrae Memorial Quaich, first donated by family friend Steve Urquhart in 2016, will be presented to the winners in his memory for the first time in six years.

A former goalkeeper and committee member, Macrae was widely regard as the club's "greatest ever supporter", as team manager John Maclellan attests.

Mr Maclellan said: "Graham played for the club as a goalkeeper in his youth, before joining the committee and lending his unwavering support at all of their games, right up until his passing.

"One his close friends, Stevie Urquhart, kindly provided a memorial quaich for Peeps a few years ago, and this will be the first time it has been played for since the pandemic.

"Playing this match in their memory will provide us with an opportunity to come together to share memories, reconnect old friends and play the sport both legends were so fond of.

"All are welcome to come and support us on Sunday, March 31, 2024 at Tain Links, where there will tea, coffee and the opportunity to take part in a raffle, from which the proceeds will be donated to causes of each families' choice."

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