PERHAPS we in the city are too blinkered. In a rugby sense we think that all that exists is this muckle slab of concrete called Glasgow, when all around us are green pastures. And if the metropolis is filled with nice young chaps who want to be lawyers, or accountants, or the like, then those who come from the green bits around us are farmers, labourers, and slightly more used to the open air.

Take it a step further by surrounding a bit of green with water, then you have Bute. And one of the rugby-playing inhabitants of Bute is one David McVey, a rough, tough soul who has travelled far and wide in pursuit of rugby honours. First with Greenock Wanderers, then Ayr, followed by Stirling County, and now West of Scotland. If he is on the bench tomorrow for Glasgow then he has a trip and a half to get back to work on Thursday.

``The only way I'll get back is to share the fishing boat that is going to bring the Bute Rangers supporters back after watching the Ajax game,'' said McVey. ``But I am used to travelling. I travel up to Glasgow on a Thursday for training at West, and then I get the 7.10 boat back for work in the morning. I have been doing that for 14 years. I have to thank my mate Colin McArthur, who has a fishing boat, for all the help he has been over the years, too. I have had to phone him a few times when I was stuck.''

When you have been doing things that long, old habits die hard. Glasgow, as is customary for modern teams, were enjoying their pasta pre-match on Saturday, but McVey was not moved to join in. ``I had to do what I normally do on the CalMac ferry at that time and so I did,'' he said. ``When they were having their pasta, I had my cup of coffee with three sugars. That's preparation.'' To think that some lazy sods in the world don't turn up to training, when it is on their doorstep as well.

I caught McVey at a bad time. Again, while chaps in Glasgow are wondering if the debtors ledger is square, or if legal aid will foot the bill, real people have somewhat more real problems. ``I show exhibition poultry, and today I went in to find that a dog has killed three of my best breeding hens,'' said McVey.

Now 30 years old, 6ft 2in and 15st, he works on his parents' farm, lives in a farm cottage, and also works at Lord Bute's gardens. It is, you have to suspect, a harder life than many of us would ever be comfortable in sampling. So it was with fascination that I watched him come on to the pitch last weekend for Glasgow while David McLeish was receiving attention, and it was good to see that old, unceremonious side to rugby that someone like McVey brings.

The old warhorse sensed that Glasgow had not been all that fired up for the occasion. ``I was very disappointed with us as a team, and we had a meeting afterwards. I got up and said that we didn't seem to be that aggressive about it all,'' he said. ``I think that in rugby you have to be aggressive. If someone lies on the wrong side of the ball, then you let them have it and they don't lie there any more. Glasgow were not aggressive and it matters in these games. There are a lot of young boys.''

As to the natural hardness of the folk that live outside the city boundary, well there is no doubting that McVey has it. He may be light, but like Ned Carswell of Kilmarnock, Kenny Young of Cumnock, George Nicholson of Ayr, and others, there is a rumbustuousness about McVey that is immensely pleasing to the eye.

And why all the travel? ``People have always asked me why I seem to have had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus, but the answer is easy. There is no way I am going to put in all that effort to play second XV rugby, and so I keep chasing to play with good players and play at the highest level I can, and I just love pulling on that Glasgow jersey. It is so important to me.''

And what has been his highest level? ``Well, I played for Glasgow when we won the championship, and I have played for Glasgow against Fiji,'' he said. ``And I was in the Melrose sevens final with Ayr. Yes, rugby has been good.''

It has been good. We must now be good to the likes of McVey, and seek the hardness that the lads from the area around Glasgow can give us.