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Daughter’s tribute to former P&J sports editor, Colin Farquharson of Aberdeen

The former Curtis Cup golfer has paid rich tribute to her father, who died age 86.

Colin Farquharson with his daughter, Elaine (left) and his wife, Ethel along with Association of Golf Writers chairman Iain Carter.
Colin Farquharson with his daughter, Elaine (left) and his wife, Ethel along with Association of Golf Writers chairman Iain Carter. Image supplied by Association of Golf Writers.

Elaine Farquharson-Black can still remember the early days of picking up her little golf clubs when she was knee-high to a grasshopper and being encouraged to enjoy herself on a diet of fairways and greens.

Her father, Colin Farquharson, was the catalyst for her decades-long love affair with the links and the youngster who was playing at five years old and receiving professional lessons at seven, was in her element as she grew up in the north-east of Scotland.

Later on, when she became one of Britain and Ireland’s best performers, both playing in two Curtis Cups and captaining her colleagues in another brace of the biennial contests against the United States, she was regularly joined on the course by Colin, when he wasn’t otherwise engaged as the sports editor of the Press & Journal, a task into which he poured his heart and soul and with no little imagination and ingenuity.

So it’s hardly surprising that Elaine has been both shocked by his death at the age of 86 and inspired to pay a warm tribute to somebody who shaped her whole outlook on life.

Original ‘girl dad’

As she said: “I was my daddy’s girl and I’m lucky to have spent so much time with him. He was the original girl dad who helped me, caddied for me, and there are so many happy memories of travelling round Scotland with him and my mum [Ethel].”

Elaine Farquharson-Black has loved sport since her primary-school days. Pic: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

It’s more than 70 years since Colin began his career as a copy boy with the P&J, throwing himself into myriad chores with endless resolves of spirit and industry.

And, after completing his National Service and returning to the paper as a sub-editor, prior to helming the sports desk in 1974, he soon proved himself a man for all seasons and pursuits, not only covering football, rugby and golf, but spreading his wings into what many regarded as the arcane world of American Football in the early 1980s.

He saw the oil boom happening

As Elaine, who is now the chairwoman of the Aberdeen FC Community Trust, recalled: “Dad was very keen on highlighting as many different pastimes as he could and it didn’t matter if something was considered a minority sport; he realised there were readers who wanted to know what was happening, so he tried to get it in the paper.

“He noticed how the oil and gas boom had transformed Aberdeen, so he would start listening to American Football matches into the early hours of the morning, and he set up a telephone hotline, where readers could find out the latest scores.

“He was a driven person and he and my mum instilled in me the importance of service. For him it was sport, she was involved in guiding, and they were both outward looking folk.”

Colin Farquharson, the former sports editor of the Press & Journal, loved to promote grassroots sport.

In the 1980s, there wasn’t the same inclination towards equal opportunities in golf as exists 40 years later. Indeed, on one occasion, Colin was asked whether he thought the lessons he was providing for his daughter weren’t “a waste of money”. But undeterred, he proved a stalwart champion of participants from all ages and backgrounds.

As she said: “He loved the game, was a member of Deeside GC for more than 50 years [where Elaine became the first-ever female captain in 2020] and got his own handicap down to four, but he told me he never had the temperament to go any lower.

Colin never stopped working

“Instead, he carried my bag, happy to be a caddy, and those were magical times. When he was covering big golf tournaments, we would all go to the Open as a family and there was so much enjoyment and fun memories from these trips.

“He never stopped working at these events. He took photographs, spoke to the players, wrote prodigiously and you could tell that he loved it all, whether at the P&J or doing agency stuff [for the David Begg golf agency] after he left the paper [in 1997].

As a proud Aberdonian, Colin was thrilled at the fashion in which his fellow loon, Paul Lawrie, overcame all the odds to triumph in the Open at Carnoustie in 1999.

And the Claret Jug victor 25 years ago recalled him fondly when he said: “Colin did an amazing job, firstly with the P&J and, latterly, with Scottish Golf View of keeping Scottish golfers up to date with what was happening in the world of golf.”

He loved his family and it was mutual

Yet, while he was recognised by the Association of Golf Writers in 2018 during The Open Championship at Carnoustie with lifetime membership, he was less interested in personal prizes and plaudits than being around his cherished family circle.

And doing whatever he could to boost the profile of Aberdeen FC as they enjoyed the most successful period in their history.

As Elaine said: “Dad compiled the Aberdeen FC match day programme for 10 years in the 1970s and 1980s and gave the Dons match report on Scoreboard, the Saturday afternoon results programme on BBC1, at a time when the club were flying.

“My parents also opened the first AFC merchandise shop in Nelson Street which was open on match days and some of my earliest memories are of players such as Martin Buchan, Joe Harper and Drew Jarvie coming in after a game to sign autographs.”

He was a classic lad o’pairts

Former P&J chief sports sub-editor George Bremner, who worked alongside Colin for 23 years, described him as “a real professional who loved his work.”

He added: “While golf was his passion, he was comfortable covering just about any sport, from football and following the fortunes of the Dons to all the many local sporting events he knew were key to the P&J’s unrivalled coverage.

Paul Lawrie has paid tribute to his late Aberdeen colleague, Colin Farquharson.

“He was keenly aware of the demands of the readership, making sure to focus on the fortunes of the north and north-east’s sportsmen and women. And was always chasing that vital local angle as well as covering the international and national story lines.

“He was also a real champion of women’s sport, always pushing hard to promote and boost its coverage in the columns of the P&J.

The late Colin Farquharson was in his element at Pittodrie.

“However, his passion for golf shone above all else. I think he was at his happiest following and covering the fortunes of our rising local golfers. And he dedicated so much of his life and career to doing just that.”

Colin is survived by his wife Ethel, his children, Keith and Elaine, and three grand-children Nicholas, Michael and Iona.

His funeral will take place at Baldarroch Crematorium on Monday May 20 at 11am.