Death of a Scottish Lion

by Jack Nixon

The passing of Aberdeen born Ernie J. S. Michie last week was of particular sadness to me and to many who came across the much travelled British Lion, and Scotland player who also turned out for Aberdeen University, Aberdeen Grammar, the Army, Highland, Langholm .Leicester Tigers and London Scottish.

I first came across Michie when he played for for my old club Langholm in the late 1950’s when he played no small part in the Border side’s remarkable feat of winning the unofficial Scottish Championship in 1959, including being the only senior club of 420 in the U.K. to go through season undefeated. Won 22 and drew four was their proud record.

Michie had by that time played 17 times for Scotland and been twice capped as a British Lion in the 1955 tour of South Africa was welcomed by the Langholm club who took full advantage of his posting to the area in his capacity as a senior official in the Forestry Commission.

The Aberdeen educated Michie was a second row player, forming a formidable partnership with local boy John Elliot cousin of Scotland winger Christie Elliot.

John recalls the day he met Michie, finding it hard to believe he was a lock.”He was only 14 stone, but soon made his presence felt in the Milntown set up,” said Elliotwhose other claim to fame was being a former town crier at the Langholm Common Riding.

MIchie was a modest man who claimed right to the end from his home in the Inverness area that the two clubs he had fondest memories were Highland and Langholm.

Long time friend Ian Nixon(no relative) and a regular at Canal Park, confirmed this when he said: “Ernie was the most modest of men whose company I enjoyed on many an occasion. He was a real gent. We shall all miss him here at Highland.”

I recently met up with him when he was a guest of honour before a game at Canal Park, enjoying a pleasant few minutes with him. To my delight, he actually remembered the slim second team winger who was never good enough to play in the title winning team who also won the Border League and their own seven - a - side tournament the same season, a feat they have never repeated after 62 years of asking.

At the Langholm club’s 150th anniversary dinner in September this year, the very mention of Ernie Michie’s name brought back fond memories of an era long time gone, particularly when lock forwards could represent their country weighing only 14 stones.

This weekend clubhouses throughout Scotland this weekend will surely raise a glass to one of the legends of the game who was 88 when he passed away on November 14th.

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