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When it comes to the details, little things mean a lot . . .

IT'S all in the detail.

Sean Fallon's visit to the MacDonald household remains a treasured memory for oor Hugh. Picture: SNS
Sean Fallon's visit to the MacDonald household remains a treasured memory for oor Hugh. Picture: SNS

A mate of mine regularly texts me with his observations after perusing the results and fixtures in The Herald. A 6.30pm kick-off in the Coupe de France tie between Avenir Foot Lozere and Le Havre will provoke his mild indignation at the trouble therefore imposed on the travelling support. The Azerbaijani clash between FC Baku and FC Neftchi will draw mild surprise that the latter managed to secure a draw against free-wheeling and big spending opponents.

Khanh Hoa Nha Trang's narrow victory in their Vietnamese league crunch match against Song Lam Nghe An will be described as a "coupon buster".

He is always grateful for the insertion of kick-off times. For example, PAS Giannina's home tie in the Greek Cup (last 16, first leg) against Fostiras was, unusually, a 5pm kick-off. The publication of this detail was invaluable to the convoy of supporters' buses congregating around Saracen Cross.

This is the sort of "football porn" that amuses my mate but grips the obsessive punter. It is accurately and unapologetically listed under the heading of Details.

My eye is drawn to it. The other one, of course, goes its own way.

I have my favourites in the Details. The progress of the Johnstone Paint Trophy (Northern Section) is never less than gripping and the Toto Sport Super Lig in Turkey always intrigues.

However, the adventures of Sligo Rovers in the Airtricity League remain of interest to me, mostly because of the club's connection with Sean Fallon.

Apart from being a Celtic legend, Mr Fallon always reminded me of my maw. She was a ferocious tackler, too. But there was another, affecting link. My maw was a nurse with the sort of work ethic that would have shamed a Korean car builder. She careered around wards all over Glasgow and beyond doing overtime shifts.

She liked a natter the way Shane McGowan enjoys an aperitif. Her patients were, therefore, her pals. She once came back from work to say that she had met someone from Celtic. One of his relatives was in the ward and he was visiting every night.

My mother knew nothing about football – and, yes, I know she has passed this on to me – but said the chap might be called Fallon. We lived the sort of life that this revelation – like a Vesta curry on Saturday nights – could be classed as spectacular. My brothers with the aid of enhanced interrogation techniques – they hid her fags – finally learned that the Mr Fallon was not John, the Celtic goalkeeper, but Sean, assistant manager and player of an extraordinary vintage.

"I told him that you were football fans," she informed them.

A couple of days later my brother answered the door to a dark-haired man in a suit. My brother, nervously twirling a baseball bat in the belief that the unexpected visitor was yet another sheriff officer, was shocked to learn that Sean Fallon had discovered the address of the nurse who was tending his relative and had come to pay a visit on an abode that could not have been any humbler if it had been made out of mud.

"Is this the home of Agnes MacDonald?" the visitor asked. My brother, forgetting the family motto of only speaking to strangers with a lawyer present, replied in the affirmative whereupon Mr Fallon handed him a envelope, bade him a good afternoon and strolled down the path casually flicking his shoe at a pack of rabid dugs.

The envelope contained two Scottish Cup final tickets. My brothers, showing the entrepreneurial spirit that has made them such successes in business, appropriated said tickets and only informed me of their existence on return from the match.

The passing of Mr Fallon last week has therefore saddened me. He will be remembered by the football world at large as a player in the famous League Cup final win over Rangers, as the coach who sat alongside Jock Stein at Lisbon or the recruiter of such stellar talents as Kenny Dalglish.

Yet the MacDonald family know him above all as a character who felt gratitude and who quietly and unobtrusively found time to give something to others.

It was a lesson. Mr Fallon was a big character but he appreciated life was all about the seemingly little things: the details.

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