A Look Back at the Argyllshire Gathering 1977

We are grateful to reader Clive Douglas for forwarding his copy of the programme for Oban Games in 1977. Clive writes:

I noticed my name in the Oban programme you posted today, the good old days apparently!

I don’t think I played that year, that was me about a year into the Focal Dystonia thing. I never competed again.

It’s a really strange disorder and 20 years later it’s still there. It comes and goes, thankfully it’s never got really bad for me. I know some folk have had to stop playing altogether.  

It’s just enough to make trying to play incredibly frustrating and all those years ago it certainly put an end to me playing at any sort of standard good enough to compete. 

The photo of Hughie [MacInnes] got me reminiscing last night, so I went digging in the loft and I came across this old programme from Oban 1977.

It rang a bell because I thought it was the first time Hughie [pictured top] had played in the Former Winners, but looking at it again I think his first go might have been 1976 after winning the Strathspey and Reel at Oban in 1975. 



I noticed that John Burgess was playing in ’77 and you [the Editor] had mentioned that he was one of the judges in the 1981 photo.

I think John McDougall won the former winners in 1977, but Hughie eventually got it in 1982.

I might be wrong, but I think that year, 1982,  he won the Former Winners at the Uist and Barra, the Scottish Pipers, the ‘big’ MSR at London and was second in the Former Winners at Inverness.

He never did get the Former Winners at Inverness and that always annoyed him.

John MacDougall playing at Braemar and the winner of the Former Winners at Oban 1977

I think he came close to winning it at Inverness in the mid-1980s just before he stopped competing.

It had changed to two of each by then instead of twice over and he had a wee false start when he played the first few notes of the march.

He tried to cover it up with some more tuning notes before starting again with the correct tune, but the camouflage didn’t work! 

It was a bit of a ‘blast from the past’ looking down the list of competitors:

S MacRae should be E for Evan MacRae and WJ Gowan is of course Walter Cowan


Mary and Luanne Alward were US students studying at the College of Piping. Jim Penman is the teacher of Douglas and James Murray, Fife. John Walsh, Bradford now of Canada,  was a piper in Shotts & Dykehead 

  • Kelly Todd is of Calgary, Alberta, and Robert Richardson is the former Knightswood Juveniles and Muirhead & Sons piper now in Texas. If anyone has the results from 1977 at Oban please pass on.
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