Oh dear, we are living in serious times…
“I am surprised that this stereotype is being perpetuated in this day and age,” complains Angus McNeil, SNP MP for the Western Isles. “The creators were living in more politically incorrect times.”
Willie MacDonald, the manager of Isle of Lewis side Back FC, is even more damning, telling the Sunday Times: “This will not raise a smile up here. A guy who has never seen a football and is going around with a sheep is absolutely ridiculous. Some things in it are horrific and this type of character has never existed on the islands.”
Apparently, not everyone was as delighted as me to hear news of a Hot Shot Hamish 2009 Annual. I pre-ordered the reprinted strips sharpish, and had to wait months before I could start reacquainting myself with a boyhood hero, right from the very first frame…
“On a bleak, rain-swept, mist-shrouded island in the lonely Hebrides… the Princes Park players spent six rain-sodden days. A training holiday!”
They soon bump into a huge, blonde, sheepskin- and kilt-toting Highlander by the name of Hamish Balfour. And within three frames he’s tapped back a stray ball with such ferocity that it demolishes a stone wall.
That’s how, back in August 1973, Scorcher comic set up the classic story of an innocent abroad in the big city, brightening the prospects of a lowly Scottish basement outfit. Fred Baker’s still-funny scripts were brought to life by the stylish Argentinian illustrator Julio Schiaffino, who always pictured such teams playing in San Siro-sized stadiums.
Princes Park FC’s path to glory was never smooth, with clashes between Hamish’s boss Ian McWhacker, his permanently furious Daddie and psychotic ‘wee pet sheep’ McMutton; but there was usually a happy ending involving a snapped crossbar.
Hamish’s place was sealed in the hearts of Princes Park fans the day he noticed a failing beam under a crowded stand, holding it up like a muscle-bulging Atlas to save the lives of, ahem, thousands of spectators.
And so: a big-hearted, humorous international role model. Not the kind of Highlander that Angus or Wullie would want to be associated with.
This was an extract from ‘Got, Not Got’ available online here.
You can still buy ‘The Hot Shot Hamish Annual 2009’ here.