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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Teammates of football legend Jim Baxter hail his special talent ahead of BBC documentary

September 23 2015

The life and times of one of Fife’s greatest footballers is celebrated in a new documentary. Two of Jim Baxter’s former Raith Rovers teammates were at Stark’s Park ahead of the broadcast of a film chronicling the legendary winger’s life. Simply titled “Jim Baxter”, the portrait is to be shown on BBC Alba on Thursday night in what is described by its makers as an “intimate” account of one of the nation’s greatest sportsmen. Ahead of the broadcast, two men who played behind Baxter during his time in Kirkcaldy, goalkeeper Jim Thorburn and defender Denis Mochan, hailed a special talent. “Back then we had our senior players and our junior players,” said Mr Mochan. “I would say that he learned his skills under those senior players and by the time he left here and went to Ibrox he was already a journeyman. “He wasn’t a great tackler but if you gave him the ball he would just float into space with it and that would give him time.” “If we were under pressure then I would just throw the ball to Baxter,” added Mr Thorburn. “He would take it for a walk and that would always give us a break.” Born in Hill of Beath in 1939, Baxter was a miner before he made his Raith debut in 1957, making 62 appearances for the Kirkcaldy club before leaving for Rangers three years later for what was a Scottish record fee of £17,500. After five years at Ibrox, his career would later see him enjoy spells at both Sunderland and Nottingham Forest, as well as a short stint playing in Canada. He retired in 1970 after a final season back at Rangers. Despite a highly successful club career, the winger is probably best known for his showboating at Wembley against world champions England in 1967, using his ball juggling skills to taunt the Auld Enemy. Such was his talent, both George Best and Ferenc Puskas, regarded as two of the greatest players in football history, hailed Baxter’s ability. But despite his natural talent, over indulgence off the field meant that his career was effectively over by the age of 30. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2001, age 61, and is immortalised in a statue in his home town. Director of “Jim Baxter”, Margot McCuaig, added: “He was a working class hero and his story is an integral element of Scottish popular life. “His story is both inspiring and tragic and I am sure it will have an impact on the audience.”


Pitching in with Baxter the Bridie

August 6 2016

Ever wondered what makes a football mascot tick? Join us as we peel back the crust of Forfar Athletic's latest signing... Prancing around on the football pitch, throwing shapes and high-fiving players while dressed as a giant meat pasty, you might suspect I’d feel a bit of a plonker. But as I hug yet another fan and join in the pre-match warm-up regime, I feel surprisingly liberated. “You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you?” laughs photographer Kris Miller, and I have to admit, that yes, I am. I’ve taken on the role of Baxter the Bridie – Forfar Athletic’s new mascot – and I’m pretty much ad-libbing my duties. Stepping into the super-size character’s costume, I’m struck by how warm it is inside. Luckily it’s a cool evening, with light showers, or I’d be cooked alive. It’s quite tricky to see through the mesh covering Baxter’s “eyes”, but maybe that’s a good thing – it certainly enhances the surrealness of the experience. As I chatter and flap around, Aisling Fitzgerald, of Forfar’s merchandising team, tells me I’ve got artistic licence to do whatever I want...within reason. “Don’t talk though – you’ll shatter the illusion,” says Kris. The aim is to entertain the crowds, and plenty of folk seem to love Baxter, who sports white gloves, a chef’s hat and a fixed grin. I get pats on the back, high-fives, hugs and banter from fans on both sides (Forfar Athletic are hosting East Fife at Station Park). I jog alongside players as they do their warm-up drills, run sideways and backwards waving my four-fingered floppy “hands”, perform some jumps, squats and static stretches, and even kick a couple of balls, all the while, beaming my huge, unwilting grin. But I really get into the swing of things when the music starts, and on hearing the famous Korean dance pop single Gangnam Style booming out through the speakers, I start to dance. I’ve no idea how good or bad the moves looked – it’s quite difficult to judge while leaping around in giant bridie “feet” with dexterity limited by the narrow placing of the arm holes, but it feels fantastic. What better excuse to go wild and lose your inhibitions than when dressed as a bridie! The fact Kris is laughing is a positive outcome...I think. A major highlight is being presented with a Frank’s Law (a campaign for free care for dementia sufferers under 65) T-shirt by Dundee United legend Frank Kopel’s wife Amanda ahead of the match. The Kopel family, who are fronting the Frank's Law campaign for free care for dementia sufferers under 65, have a strong connection with Forfar Athletic – Frank’s son Scott played for the team in the early 1990s. When kick-off approaches, the players run out on to the pitch, and Baxter takes the opportunity to give as many of them as possible a lucky high-five. Sadly, some of the more serious team members sprint on by, but those who do take him on do so with good grace. Duties done until half time, I head back to the dressing room and strip off the sweatbox costume. My hair is frizzy and stuck to my forehead, my mascara is running, my eyes are bloodshot; quite frankly, I looked a lot better as Baxter. It was the second time the mascot had entertained fans after making his debut at a friendly against Dundee United at Station Park on July 5. And Baxter — already well on his way to cult status — proved his worth as a lucky mascot, with Forfar beating East Fife 2-0. Alll in all, being a bridie was a fun and somewhat enlightening experience and one I may even (whisper it) repeat. The club is keen for volunteers to take on the role on match days and stress it’s open to anyone. No previous experience or knowledge of football required! Anyone interested should email fafcretail@gmail.com info Baxter the Bridie is Forfar Athletic’s first mascot. The bridie (a horseshow-shaped meat product) was an obvious choice as it’s iconic to the town. The club has been delighted by the reaction to Baxter since he was launched in May, and there’s a long waiting list for replica mini bridies. As well as meeting golf hero Phil Mickelson and Scottish football legend Kenny Daglish, fun size versions of Baxter met rugby giants Gavin Hastings and Craig Chalmers, and presenter Hazel Irvine. Baxter even boasts his own Facebook page and there’s a competition for fans to take mini-mascots to far-flung places.


Remembering ‘Slim’ Jim Baxter – Army days of a great

April 14 2016

To mark the 15th anniversary of Fife-born football legend Jim Baxter’s death, his former Black Watch drill instructor at Perth spills the beans to MICHAEL ALEXANDER. Jim Baxter knew how to shoot in more ways than one, according to an instructor who was in charge of the footballer’s basic training during the early days of his National Service. The west Fife-born Scotland legend served two years in the Black Watch from 1961, despite being a household name playing for Rangers. And retired Sergeant Jim Beedie, who was a corporal at the time, has revealed that Baxter was as good a shot with a rifle as he was with a football. Yet the retired soldier laughs when he thinks back to another side of the legend. “He was an awfully lazy man,“ Sgt Beedie told The Courier. “Being as fit as he was, if he got the chance of two minutes lying on his back then he would bound up the stairs and would take the time. “He was fortunate Rangers always picked him up on Friday afternoons and brought him back on Sunday afternoons after the game! A big white Jaguar used to come for him.” Sgt Beedie, now 76, of Blairgowrie, put Baxter through his first 10 weeks of army training at Queen’s Barracks in Perth. It was his job to teach him everything about life as a soldier from drill to shooting to cleaning his gun. And he was good at following orders. But Sgt Beedie, whose family followed a strong Black Watch tradition, remembers having to have a word with Baxter after their first encounter. Sgt Beedie recalled: “One of the things that sticks in the back of my mind was when the intake of recruits, including Baxter, arrived at the Queen’s Barracks. “The new intakes always got their haircut. He was sent to the barbers like the rest of them, to get a short back and sides. But when he came back I said ‘I thought I sent you for a haircut?’. He thought that because he was Jim Baxter he could tell the barber how much to take off. But I had to tell him to go back because it was not short enough. He had just wanted a trim up around the ears!” Sgt Beedie only knew Baxter for 10 weeks. In his nine years as a regular soldier, Beedie was posted to Cyprus and Germany. But the footballer certainly left his mark in the relatively short time their paths crossed. Born in Hill of Beath in 1939, Baxter was a miner before he made his Raith Rovers debut in 1957, making 62 appearances for the Kirkcaldy club before leaving for Rangers three years later for what was a Scottish record fee of £17,500. After basic training National Service soldiers would usually move on for advanced training with the battalion. And Baxter did go on to finish his training at Stirling Castle after the Perth barracks closed. But because he was a footballer playing for Rangers and Scotland, an arrangement had been made between the club and the army meaning he was kept in the depot and not sent overseas. Sgt Beedie, himself a Rangers fan, played football at a ‘kick-a-bout’ level. But he always thought Baxter’s talents were wasted in those army depot games because he was such a clever footballer. “He was way above the standard of play of the average soldier and used to really stand out, “ he recalled. “He was a regular soldier when it came down to it. But he was kept at a certain level so that he could still play for Rangers. He was ahead of the majority of the depot when it came to fitness and found his drill and endurance works easy.” Sgt Beedie said Baxter was well liked by the other soldiers. There was a lot of ‘kidology’ from supporters of other teams, as you might expect. “He was a right story teller as well, “he added. “He always had a crowd around him in the NAFFI when they were having drinks. He was a bit of a boy like! “But he certainly didn’t think he was above everyone else. He was a good enough soldier. He did his bit.” After five years at Ibrox, Baxter’s career would later see him enjoy spells at both Sunderland and Nottingham Forest, as well as a short stint playing in Canada. He retired in 1970 after a final season back at Rangers. Despite a highly successful club career, the left-footed winger is probably best known for his showboating at Wembley against world champions England in 1967, using his ball juggling skills to taunt the Auld Enemy. But despite his natural talent, over indulgence off the field meant that his career was effectively over by the age of 30. He died of pancreatic cancer on April 14 2001, age 61, and is immortalised in a statue in his home town. Sgt Beedie, who ran Blairgowrie-based refrigerated transport company 4JA after the army, was saddened to hear of Baxter’s passing. But he feels honoured to have played a small part in the life of one of Scotland’s greatest football icons.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk


Fife event to mark 50 years since Jim Baxter’s swagger at Wembley

March 2 2017

Fifty years on from arguably Scotland’s greatest victory, the stunning performance of one of Fife’s favourite sons will be marked at a special event. Jim Baxter is already immortalised with a statue in Hill of Beath, where he lived and played football in his early years. Raith Rovers, his first senior club, plan to celebrate half a century since his iconic showing at Wembley when Scotland became unofficial world champions at a star-studded evening in Kirkcaldy next month. The show, which will take place on April 17 at the Adam Smith Theatre, will feature film footage of the famous 3-2 win over the England in 1967 and other memorable Baxter moments, as well as input from celebrities who had connections with ‘Slim Jim’. They will include Willie Henderson, one of Scotland’s greatest wingers and a lifelong friend of Jim’s; Jim McCalliog, who scored in the victory over England; ex-Scotland manager Craig Brown; former Prime Minister Gordon Brown; and crime writer Val McDermid, whose father initially brought Baxter to her beloved Raith Rovers. Raith Rovers director Dave Wann hopes as many people as possible will turnout for the event, as it will also help develop local footballing talent hoping to follow in Baxter’s footsteps. “One of the purposes behind the event is to raise funds for the Raith Rovers player development squad so that the club can aspire to find and nurture the next generation of young players with some of Jim Baxter’s skills,” he explained. “Our current national team has struggled in recent years and this event is an opportunity to remind ourselves of a time when Scotland had truly international quality players — a time when we could even brag about beating the world champions on their own turf." Baxter’s swagger during Scotland’s win over England at Wembley on April 15, 1967, remains the stuff of legend, and those who were in attendance were left mesmerised by his performance over the 90 minutes. His keepie-uppie with the ball on the touchline as the clock ticked down is one of the most iconic moments in Scottish sport. Baxter, who played for Raith between 1957 and 1960 before moving to Rangers, died aged 61 in 2001 a and the statue was erected in his honour two years later. Mr Wann said the evening promises “entertainment and nostalgia in equal quantities” and tickets are available via the Adam Smith Theatre box office by calling 01592 583302. Standard tickets are £20 and VIP tickets are £30 which include a pre-show pie and a pint and the opportunity to meet the celebrities.


Waid Academy bolsters The Courier’s ‘Can It’ campaign

September 29 2016

Staff and pupils at Waid Academy in Anstruther threw their weight behind The Courier’s ‘Can It’ campaign earlier this year and pledged on Wednesday to keep backing the initiative in the weeks ahead. Several Fife secondary schools are supporting The Courier’s drive to ban caffeine-based fizzy ‘energy’ drinks from school premises in a bid to improve the health and wellbeing of the region’s youngsters. Specially designed ‘Can It’ water bottles are being given out to the new S1 cohort at participating schools as a thank you for signing up. Teachers said they plan to hold assemblies in the coming weeks to reinforce the ‘Can It’ message. The school’s health and wellbeing group has been raising awareness of the potential effects of such drinks, while Waid’s student congress has aimed to increase the number of water fountains on school premises. A deal was struck with the school’s PPP partners for one to be installed in the sports hall before the summer break. Rector Iain Hughes said: “We currently do not sell carbonated drinks from any outlet in the school but there is still a task ahead to limit the number of these being brought onto school premises. “We strongly believe that for the significant health benefits to our learners that we have to break down the culture of drinking energy drinks.” Teacher Jacqui Smith-Mackay added: “Now that they have the bottles, we’ll have an assembly to explain to the pupils why they have got them and there will be a big drive from our Health and Wellbeing Group. “We have mooted it around the school and have some of The Courier’s articles and photos from earlier in the year, but it’s something we’re keen to get behind. “We’ve got the Co-op nearby, the pupils have got the pocket blazers, so you’ll see them try to come in with energy drinks every morning.” Other Fife schools backing the campaign include Kirkcaldy High, Bell Baxter High, Lochgelly High, Balwearie High, Glenrothes High, Queen Anne High, St Andrew’s RC High and Inverkeithing High. The campaign was also endorsed by Fife councillors earlier in the year.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.