The efforts of Scottish football’s longest-serving chairman and his family was celebrated at an Angus reception on Friday.
John Christison worked with 16 Arbroath FC managers since he became chairman in 1993, and his brother Derek immersed himself in the club as a volunteer after retiring from the offshore industry eight years ago.
The pair have now formally retired from the club following a glittering season that brought a championship trophy and promotion to League One.
Their dedication to the club, that of their wives Marlyn and Maria, and five generations of Christisons, was marked with a presentation by Angus Provost Ronnie Proctor.
While presenting framed copies of sheet music The Red Lichtie, Councillor Proctor told John: “There could be no more fitting finale to your stewardship than to have won the League Cup title on May 6 this year — a proud day for you, Arbroath Football Club, and the wider Arbroath and Angus community.
“It must always be remembered that the role of chairman, which you have occupied for so long, is not a salaried appointment but a dedicated personal voluntary commitment based on a strong set of values and beliefs, which makes your contribution and dedication all the more remarkable.”
To Derek he said: “Your decision to retire at the same time as John will leave a huge gap in the day to day affairs of the club, but I think that you can feel rightly proud of your personal contribution and the wider Christison contribution to the proud name of Arbroath Football Club.”
On behalf of his family, John said: “It’s a great privilege to be invited here today and it has been an honour to be involved with the club for so long.
“We’ll still be at the ground at the weekend but I am looking forward to playing bowls and spending time with our new granddaughter.”
Highs and lows of Scottish football
The club has experienced the best and worst of life outside the top flight of Scottish football since John took over as chairman.
Dundee FC paid an astounding £120,000 for striker Paul Tosh in 1993 but that big money boost was tempered by a 9-1 defeat to Celtic later in the year — the club’s biggest defeat.
The Scottish League was restructured a year later, with Arbroath settling in around the bottom of the new Third Division.
Dave Baikie and his “bearded army” of followers saw the club promoted in the 1997/98 season, a renaissance built on by John Brownlie with promotion in 2001 — their first time in the First Division since 1980.
Back-to-back relegations followed and the team would wait until 2007 to get back up to the Second Division via play-offs, followed by relegation two years later.
Player manager Paul Sheerin led Arbroath to its first championship trophy — previous promotions were from runner-up spots.