Ayr Rugby Club lost one of its most charismatic and hard-working members on Saturday 5th August with the sudden and untimely death of Gus McKay at the age of 78.

Gus had been a member of our club for 60 years, as a player, committee man, President, and general handyman about Millbrae. He was a very practical man and no job was too small for him to attend to – he saved the club a fortune as tradesmen were not required. If you asked a favour of Gus, he would oblige.

With no rugby background, Gus McKay was persuaded to join the club as an 18-year-old. With a natural, strong physique, Gus found himself selected as a prop forward. However, the road to the 1st XV front row was blocked by Jock Craig, John Burston and Alastair McClelland. When Jock Craig was a last-minute call-off for a game in Edinburgh, Gus made his debut. His 1st XV appearances were limited but he played for the 2nd XV and the lower teams regularly as he got into his thirties and forties.

By this time Gus had reinvented himself as a stand-off – kicking ability questionable but good handling skills and a fair burst of speed to go with his tackling prowess. He played for the Over-35s which morphed into the Spiders, scoring a bucketload of points until he retired at 50.

By the 1980’s Gus had been persuaded to join the committee and he only came off those duties last year. Positions such as Ground Convenor and House Convenor were the prelude to the inevitable move to higher committee posts and, after several years as Vice President, Gus McKay became President of Ayr Rugby Club from 2001-2004.

The end of his presidency did not mean the end of his club service. By now Gus oversaw SRU International tickets, a task he performed admirably for over 20 years. He gained a new title as Admin Secretary, so he collected and distributed mail and invoices while still using his tools to fix lighting, heating, plumbing and roof problems. His wife Liz must have got fed up with during-the-night telephone calls to the key-holder to meet police on club premises after a break-in triggered the alarm system. He still had time to design and fill the flowerbeds outside the clubhouse. And who is going to replace him as scoreboard operator and timekeeper on match days? Even the club’s Midis benefitted as Gus helped coach his son Alastair’s U-18 team to success with consecutive Scottish Championship wins.

Despite this massive commitment to Millbrae, Gus still found time for his social activities, especially golf. He was an enthusiastic, high-handicap golfer who enjoyed golf trips with his friends to Spain and Portugal as well as weekends in Scotland to St. Andrews, Bute and other golfing venues. A keen walker, his group of six covered the West Highland Way in 2002 and The Great Glen in 2003.

A lively social character, Gus travelled with his kilt to Cardiff, Dublin, Twickenham, Paris and Rome. He was on every Llanishen rugby trip since the inaugural visit to Cardiff in 1974. Almost 50 years of friendship established with his Welsh friends! Gus was the life and soul of every social trip, ready with a joke or quip to entertain the company.

Yet his first priority was always family and our deepest sympathy is extended to his wife Elizabeth (Liz) and children Louise, Stephanie and Alastair. What spare time he had he loved spending with his nine grandchildren. A big softie at heart!

Gus McKay’s tragic passing has left a huge hole at Millbrae and we thank him for the amazing contribution he made to the history and success of Ayr Rugby Club.

Gus, we may ne’er see your like again!