Charlie Porteous - Tribute to a Club stalwart

Charlie Porteous - Tribute to a Club stalwart

By Mark Brown
22 June
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With kind permission, Brian Darling has shared his heartwarming reading made at Warriston Crematorium as we celebrated Charlie's life well lived.


Charlie was a member at Broughton Rugby club for close on 60 years, joining in the early 60's, a forward , mainly playing in the back row. This decade and the early 70's saw the club achieve its highest standing in Scottish Rugby with a number of games against the best XV's in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Borders, Charlie played his part in this achievement.

Off the pitch, the members including Charlie used their expertise, labour and hard graft to complete the first stage of the clubhouse building at Wardie in 1970.

He was appointed captain in season 1972-73 at the same time as his future brother in law Bob Stewart was appointed vice captain, the season ending with Charlie being part of the winning seven at Haddington beating Melville College in the final, probably the most prestigious sevens victory the club has ever won, the win was particularly sweet for him as he had close connections with the town of Haddington and knew many of the host committee. He was previously a sevens winner at Kirkcaldy.

Bob Munro passed on a story from his first team debut, Charlie was captain and welcomed Bob, before letting him know he could change anywhere in the dressing room except for 2 coat hooks in the corner as they belonged to Neil Fisher and Eric Donaldson, not a lot to do with playing the match but very sound advice indeed.

Charlie left Edinburgh in December 1973 for Cape Town in South Africa, joining the foremost club Villager who could put out as many as 10 teams on a Saturday, he went straight into the third team, sometimes playing in the 2nds, with the first XV being populated with Springboks and Provincial players. During Charlie's time there, the famous Lions tour of 74 took place and Charlie made a point of being very gracious with his stunned club mates.

I can recollect playing alongside Charlie in the back row for the first XV at the start of season 76-77 but Charlie again headed away on his travels , this time to the Arabian Gulf, playing for Abu Dhabi, he continued to play into the mid 1990's with tournaments taking place in such glamorous locations as Dubai, Muscat and Bahrain, his club also toured the Far East centering on Hong Kong, the venues would certainly be a long way from his experience of the Broughton pitches , that infamous slope at Wardie or the windswept playing field down at Gypsy Brae.

Once back in Edinburgh, Tuesday evenings would involve a visit to Wardie for a beer and a blether in the clubhouse. During covid these Tuesday evenings catch ups continued via zoom.

Charlie and Heather had a very enjoyable trip to Rome with fellow Broughton members and partners for the 6 nations in 2006.

Many Saturdays involved a visit to his great friend Jimmy Calder's home in Learmouth, they would watch the game or games of the day on TV, and were often joined by Billy Blanch and Ian McLeod, Charlie was responsible for providing the bran scones.

More recently Charlie took on the important role of club Almoner, the difficult job of informing others of the death of people who had club connections, this he handled with great dignity and compassion.

With the tighter licensing laws Charlie even went through a formal training course to provide cover for the bar, but one area he didn't appear to need any training, was in the kitchen where he was happy to cook up the breakfast when the clubhouse opened for morning televised games from the world cup or lions tours. He also bought, prepared and cooked, with a wee bit help, some excellent food for the annual BRAC 6 nations prediction dinners, however there were a few times when his portion controls were not for the faint hearted. Charlie did receive the loser's wooden spoon trophy in 2013 but turned it around the following year to win the competition and was presented with the winners BRAC Quaich.

Away from Broughton, Charlie was a regular attendee of the monthly EROS (Edinburgh Rugby Oldies Society) lunches at Stewart Melville's Inverleith , this allowed him to catch up with the many many friends he had got to know over the years.

He was a regular and enthusiastic spectator on the touchline for most of Broughton first XV games , his love of the game was such that if there was no Broughton match on he would sometimes even go and watch Portobello,Trinity or Leith Accies playing.

He was extremely proud of his Rugby playing nephew, Bob Stewart's son, Richard who in recent years has been capped nearly 20 times for his adopted country of Spain.

Charlie was a great ambassador for Broughton or any team he played for, on and off the pitch, as he was just a natural club man and loved getting involved with people, he seemed to know someone at ever club he visited, he had a great memory for players , matches and had many stories to share, one in particular I recall was from a Broughton game played in the borders, perhaps at Melrose, when the referee stopped the match to award a scrum, someone claimed Broughton put in, only for the neutral borders referee to reply, " Naw sorry son, its oor ba".

Charlie's passing will be felt by many in the Edinburgh Rugby community but most keenly by all down at his beloved Broughton.

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