More sadness for Scottish rallying. Bob Morland passed away on the night of 23rd November, peacefully and with his family around him. He had been fighting cancer since June 2015.
For the past 12 years he was Team Faulkner and Foy's mascot, but more than that. He prepared meticulously detailed Service Plans for Mike and Peter and ran Chase or Management Car as often as he could manage.
His own competition career was behind him, but it didn't stop him taking an interest in the sport and a sporting interest in the many friends he made over the years.
He was full of stories and some of them were quite long. If he managed to catch you, even when you were in a hurry, you knew you were going to be late, no matter what. You were stuck till the end of the tale or the punch line. He had a terrific memory but that was what made his stories, even the long winded ones, so interesting.
He also had an embarrassingly good memory. Things which I had thought long forgotten (and should remain forgotten) he would recall with mischievous relish.
It all started for him way back in 1964.
After school at Dumfries Academy, he completed an Engineering course at Dumfries Technical College in 1952 following which he started work with the Carnation evaporated milk factory in Dumfries although his active rally involvement didn't start until he met Derek Attwood in 1964.
Derek was one of the top rally navigators at the time and was running classes to teach newcomers. Bob teamed up with Walter MacDonald and a lifelong passion commenced. Not only was he a quick learner, he was quick to master the 'tricks of the trade'. For instance, he was known to wear three wristwatches on occasion – one with the correct time, one running a minute slow, and one a minute fast. If trying to cajole a Marshal into giving him a different time or confusing him with 'science' failed to work then he could produce a watch to match his claim!
He did try his hand at rally driving once, but that ended with the car on its ear near Lochmaben cemetery. After that he stuck to navigating and expanded his interests when Walter took to the forests for stage rallying.
Over the years he navigated for innumerable drivers young and old and always keen to help the youngsters. In addition to Walter other drivers for whom he 'assisted' included Ivor Clark, Ian Paterson, Ricky Wheeler, Jim Doig, Richard Stewart and Harold Tweedie, in 'Daisy' the Daihatsu Fourtrak, to name but a few.
The nearest he ever came to 'superstardom' was on his own club's stage rally, the 1988 Tweedies Daihatsu Forest Stages Rally when he and Ricky Wheeler finished second overall behind a certain Colin McRae and Alison Hamilton. This was Colin's first ever outright victory while Murray and Mark Grierson were third. Given such exalted company, you'd have thought Bob had won the World Championship.
Aside from competition he did his bit for the club, serving on the Committee of South of Scotland Car Club and undertaking Timekeeping duties on many events.
Of course it's not just us who will miss him, his sons, Kenneth and Graeme and daughter Joyce and 9 grandchildren will be bereft. As will his partner, Chris and her two grandchildren. Bob doted on the youngsters using his engineering expertise in the building of complicated Lego structures and also devised a novel way of teaching them maths - using peas, sweetcorn and chocolate buttons!
Rally service areas will be much quieter now after Bob's passing and we'll all miss the hand on the arm and the "Wait till I till ye this" which then led on to some sporting or political point he wanted to raise or pass on. And also the permanent sense of mischief. There were occasions when he pulled an MSA Blue Book out of his pocket to reinforce a point of view, pointing out the appropriate regulation to the objector. It often took quite a long while for the objector to notice that the Blue Book in question was 10 years out of date!
Nope that wasn't a merry twinkle in his eye. That was a permanent sparkle of mischief. They don't make them like that any more, and the sport is all the poorer for it.
There is a longer version of this tribute in the on-line mag. there is also something else. Three weeks ago, Bob sent me a letter. It's also too long to print here but I have permission to print it in the on-line mag. I also had permission to 'trim' it, but nope. He wrote it as it was, so I left it as it was. And just so you know, he called me 'Faither' (hence the letter's intro) and I called him 'Gramps'. If you get a moment, have a read: