Jim Blair, a football writer in Scotland for more than 30 years, died on August 25, aged 54.
Jim’s career saw him write for the Evening Times in Glasgow for 10 years and then for the Daily Record for another 15 before being made redundant in a Mirror Group cost-cutting exercise in the Nineties. Following these two lengthy stints on staff, he freelanced for Scotland on Sunday, his first love the Evening Times and finally for the Scottish Daily Mail.
When he was still only 24, Jim was covering Rangers’ European Cup Winners’ Cup campaign, which ended with the Glasgow club winning the trophy in Barcelona in 1972.
Two years later he was with Scotland in West Germany as the country entered the World Cup Finals for the first time in 16 years. Jim should also have been in Argentina for the Finals there in 1978 but he broke a leg playing in an office football match and was hospitalised.
Soon afterwards he joined the Daily Record and his irreverent ‘Off The Record’ column became one of the newspaper’s most popular features.
Jim was a man with a wonderful sense of humour – comedian Billy Connelly once declared that Blair was the funniest man he knew – and he was able to bring that to his writing. His work was sometimes wonderfully comical, sometimes scathingly caustic and always clever.
With his sharp wit he was able to build friendships easily in both the world of journalism and football. If anyone needed evidence of the affection and respect Jim had earned over the years, then they would have seen that expressed in the numbers that attended his funeral at Daldowie Crematorium in Glasgow earlier this month. Hundreds of colleagues were there, along with such football legends as Billy McNeill, the former captain and manager of Celtic, and John Greig, who held both those positions at rivals Rangers.
Other former players and managers present included Bertie Auld, Tommy Gemmell, Alex Willoughby, Dave McParland, Jackie McNamara Senior, Jim Duffy, Mike Jackson and Benny Rooney.
But what would have pleased Jim Blair even more was the response from ordinary readers of his work who were there to acknowledge his rare and quirky talent.
Jim is survived by his widow Carol and son Graeme.