The news that the St Andrew's Sporting Club had parted company with Tommy Gilmour Jr, the man who has been its public face for more than half of its 30-year existence, came as a considerable shock to the boxing fraternity, although their disbelief was nothing to the consternation from Gilmour himself on discovering that he was not, as he believed, the proprietor. Instead, that position would seem to have been held all along by Gerry Woolard, until recently one of Gilmour's closest allies.

Clearly, Gilmour is guilty here; of naivety, of failing to properly audit the Club's title deeds and, most of all, of mixing business with friendship and confusing the two.

That he failed to see Woolard as a threat is, perhaps, understandable. Several years ago, the accountant - twice struck off by the governing body of his chosen profession - testified to the British Boxing Board of Control that neither he nor members of his family held a stake in the Sporting Club.

Some time back, Bob Arum, the American promoter, was asked by a reporter why he had given a contradictory answer to the same question on consecutive days. ''Yesterday I was lying,'' he replied. ''Today I'm telling the truth.'' Duplicity and boxing, as many a fighter will testify, seem inseparable at times. It is difficult, however, to see Gilmour's removal as anything other than the death of an institution. Now in its 31st year, the St Andrew's Sporting Club was due to hold the first show of the new season at the end of this month. That has now been postponed.

What is immediately obvious is that none of the boxers in Gilmour's stable - or that of Katherine Morrison, Scotland's other major promoter - will box for Woolard, who does not possess a promoter's licence in any case.

Unsurprisingly, Gilmour has no intention of walking away from the sport. Gilmour owns the right to promote at Glasgow's Holiday Inn, the Sporting Club's base, and he intends to continue his monthly black-tie shows there.

Woolard, as a BBBC steward for many years, also has a wide range of contacts within the sport: he will need to ensure that his relationships with them haven't been tainted by his split with Gilmour if he is to have a chance of keeping this famous name alive.

WHEN businessman Moss Goodman opened the St Andrew's Sporting Club at the then Albany Hotel in Glasgow's Bothwell Street in January 1973, he did so in style by featuring the much anticipated Edinburgh v Glasgow British lightweight title clash between Ken Buchanan, former world champion from Edinburgh, and Jim Watt, future boss of the world's lightweights from

Glasgow, writes Brian Donald.

Before a capacity dinner- jacketed audience, both boxers produced a tough scrap over 15 bruising rounds.

Buchanan, despite toiling under the handicap of a cut left eye in the ninth round, won a points verdict from Edinburgh referee George Smith which many claimed should have been closer on the third man's scorecard than it was. But then that was just setting the tone for the many top-class title fights surrounded by controversy that took place at the St Andrew's in following years.

Again, that first night at the St Andrew's in 1973 established yet another Scottish boxing first for the victorious Buchanan. Complete with the Lonsdale belt that he had just made his own, Buchanan was stuck immediately after leaving the ring in the hotel lift.

However, memorable occasions were par for the course at the Albany Hotel venue, especially when Tommy Gilmour took the club over in the 1980s.

Gilmour admits that it was at the club in 1981 that he came of age both as a manager and promoter by learning to cope with the bitter taste of defeat as well as the fruits of triumph.

Eagerly anticipating his first British champion in Gartcosh-based Dave McCabe, who was challenging Terry Wallace's tough Londoner Ray Cattouse, Gilmour was a sad figure after Cattouse came from way behind in this 15-round British title bout to stop McCabe in the 13th.

But a long post-fight chat with Terry Wallace banished a despondent Gilmour's thoughts of giving up boxing, and the rest is history.

Under Gilmour, a progression of Scottish, British and world champions strutted their stuff in the club ring.

Boxers such as lightweights Alex Dixon of Larkhall, Glaswegian Steve Boyle, fly and bantamweights such as Keith Knox, Joe Kelly, Pat Clinton, Drew Docherty, and Scotland's only two-time world champion Paul Weir fought under Gilmour's St Andrew's Sporting Club banner. Weir became the first Scottish world champion to make his paid ring debut, against an American Eddie Vellajo, at the club. Weir stopped Vellajo in two rounds in April 1992.

A little later, Weir became the first Scot to contest the world title in a private members' club when the Irvine man out-pointed South African Lindi Memani for the WBO mini-flyweight title.

However, having refereed myself at the club in the early 1980s, I would like to nominate a terrific scrap between two journeymen fighters - Geoff Pegler of Swansea and Gary Petty of Hull in January 1982.

Watched by a celebrity audience which included Scotland manager Jock Stein, both these boys went at it hammer and tongs for six hard rounds that had the audience on their feet cheering as I called it a draw.

However, that was typical of the whole St Andrew's Sporting Club ambience on a Monday evening - even the undercard boxers were motivated by the special club atmosphere to rise above themselves and produce something special.

The club was an ante-room to boxing immortality.

British and European champion Clinton, who won the WBO flyweight title in a memorable night in Glasgow in 1992, had many bouts at the club and in more recent times, Cambuslang's former WBO featherweight champion Scott Harrison produced a memorable display of hitting power and skill in January 2000 to outscore Londoner Patrick Mullings for the Commonwealth Featherweight title.

However, that was what the St Andrew's Sporting Club was all about. It made Caledonian boxing dreams into nationwide, indeed worldwide,