Lawrie Reilly, at 83, is as sharp of thought as when he was the centre-forward who scored 185 goals for Hibernian more than half a century ago. He once jumped, kicked and ran as one of the Famous Five. Now he is the last man standing.
He has a glint in his eye reserved for humour when it once was obsessed with spotting the main chance on the field of play. Innately humble, he has a sense of his worth.
Awarded 38 caps for Scotland when each one had to be seized from the grasp of a clutch of competing greats, Reilly walks into Hampden carrying his football memories lightly, inspired by his past rather than encumbered by it. His propensity for precision lies in the history books. He scored 22 goals in a Scotland shirt at a rate of more than one every two matches.
Memories are made of all this and more. Reilly won three Scottish titles in 1947, 1951 and 1952 in a career at Hibernian that began as a 16-year-old and ended just more than 12 years later with injury.
His appearance at the national stadium was to publicise the Alzheimer Scotland project that uses football memories to stimulate the minds of sufferers in groups from Shetland to Stranraer. It has been discovered that football memorabilia can provoke animated discussions at these gatherings and, brilliantly, a pack of cards has been assembled with funding from Museums Galleries Scotland that has further enthused those whose memories may fail in most areas but come to life when confronted by the memorabilia.
The pack of 60 cards includes 55 players and five managers from the past. The challenge at Alzheimer groups is for the attenders to pick their best XI and best manager.
Mischievously, Reilly has no doubt who should play in the No.9 shirt. Asked what contemporary Scotland players could play for the national side of his era, he replies: "Maybe 10 of them." A quiet chuckle underlines the unspoken sentiment that the centre-forward position would be filled by L Reilly of Hibernian.
"It's always easy to say they weren't as good as in our day. It's easy to pass it off like that but there's a lot of truth in that. There were probably many better players individually," he says. It is hard to argue with a man who played in the same forward line as Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnston, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond.
His sprightliness may have much to do with his passion for goal after he retired and his life-long abstinence from the demon drink. "I had a pub for a number of years but I have never taken alcohol. I preferred orange juice," he says. "My father was a teetotal man as well so it was a good example to follow.
"Was I unusual amongst my peers back then? I think so. The lads I played with, some of them took a refreshment. But it didn't affect any of them as far as I remember."
And neither, seemingly, did the diet. "Fish and chips at night," he says of a regular meal. "We didn't stick very much to a strict diet, truthfully. You just ate what you ate as a laddie. You grew up eating egg and chips or whatever. Before a game we looked after ourselves and didn't eat too much. Chips were out, we had the fish without the chips." He was diplomatic about naming players in the present-day Scotland squad whom he admires. The impression was that Mr Reilly felt that if he could still squeeze into his boots – they would be a tight fit now, he informed the press – then there would be no question of the quality at centre-forward.
"Fletcher would not have got a game in my era," he says of a fellow former Hibee, Steven of that ilk. There is humour in the sentence but an unassailable truth, too. "I can't understand anyone not wanting to play for their country," he says. "If I had first choice I would probably pick Scotland, edging out Hibs. But I loved to play for the two of them. I was just sorry I had to pack up due to injuries when I was 29. I'd have loved to have played for another 10 years."
Age has not withered him but it has its trial, not least watching his old team. "We're at the stage we're always building, bringing on players other clubs can come and take away," he says. Of Pat Fenlon, the Hibs manager, he remarks: "You can't expect someone to come in as manager and turn them into world beaters. But they've not been in too good a form of late. I just keep my fingers crossed. Going through managers isn't a good thing. When I played at Easter Road, I played under two managers. Willie McCartney signed me then Hugh Shaw came after him. They were both excellent."
The verdict of a great on his team chimes with that of the everyday fan: "There's nothing you can do about the way the club has gone so you just have to suffer in silence."
A glint returns when he remembers his team's most recent dark day when Hibs lost the Scottish Cup final 5-1 to Hearts in May. "Hibs laid on a beautiful, big, private car with a chauffeur," he says of the journey to Glasgow with his wife.
"We passed this big bus full of Hearts supporters. We were all thinking a war must have been going on because they were giving the V for victory signs." There is a pause for reflection. "I enjoyed the trip through better than the trip back."
He shoots, he scores. Lawrie Reilly, a living tribute to the joy of memory.
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