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Fife rugby legends roll back years in memory of much-loved Howe captain Allan Booth

Former Scotland players Fergus Thomson (left) and Chris Fusaro after the match. Photo courtesy of Chris Reekie.
Former Scotland players Fergus Thomson (left) and Chris Fusaro after the match. Photo courtesy of Chris Reekie.

Scores of retired Fife rugby players rolled back the years on Friday night to pay tribute to former Howe captain Allan Booth.

More than 700 people attended Allan’s funeral in Cupar in January 2020 after the keen sportsman died aged only 55 after a short battle with cancer.

Allan was known as Boothie or Smooth to his Howe of Fife teammates.

He played more than 500 games for the north-east Fife club at all levels after making his senior debut in 1983.

The pandemic, however, forced the postponement of a charity match organised in his memory.

But Howe of Fife stalwarts from across Scotland finally gathered at the club’s ground Duffus Park in Cupar on Friday night to raise money, a smile and a “Smooth Booth Pale Ale” in memory of their friend and club mate.

Scotland internationals turn out for Smooth

Around 80 players and coaches from six decades of the club’s history took to the field over 60 action-packed minutes.

They included former Howe youth players and Scotland internationals Fergus Thomson and Chris Fusaro.

Many greats from the rugby club’s recent and no so recent past joined the Scotland stars.

Allan Booth in his playing days for the Howe of Fife. Photo courtesy of Chris Reekie.

Allan’s younger brother Scott Booth and nephew Chip Brailsford came up with the idea for the game.

Scott had not played rugby for 25 years before taking to the field alongside the Scotland players.

He said: “It started off as a thought and then snowballed.

Players in the Allan Booth Charity Match. Photo courtesy of Chris Reekie.

Scott continued: “We all think Allan will be sitting up there with a beer in his hand, laughing at us all.”

Players paid £20 each to take the field and raise money for three charities Cancer Research UK, Maggies and the Tarvit Ward in Cupar’s Adamson Hospital.

Hundreds of supporters turned out, finishing the evening with a standing ovation for the players, Booth family and fundraisers.

The event raised around £6,000 pounds with the final total still being calculated.

Smooth beer brewed in tribute to rugby man’s barley work

Allan worked as a research scientist at the James Hutton Institute, specialising in barley research.

Fife’s Crafty Maltsters and Dundee’s Law Brewing Company produced a special “Smooth Booth Pale Ale” for after the game.

Glasgow and Scotland scrum half George Horne watched from the stand. He remembered Allan coaching him when he was at primary school.

He said: “I remember his passion and enthusiasm for rugby and especially the club down here at the Howe.

“He lived and breathed it. He was such a welcoming figure and we all really enjoyed his company.”

George Horne – who Allan coached as a boy – scores a try for pro-team Glasgow.

Allan made his debut for the Howe of Fife 1st XV in 1983, going on to play 325 matches for the club’s top team and to captain to the side in the late 1990s.

He was active at all levels in the club for 26 years and is remembered fondly for his enthusiasm and encouraging words.

He also coached many groups of young rugby players, sharing his skill, knowledge and love for both rugby and sport in general.

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