THE undisputed voice of Scottish football is returning to the Borders Book Festival this year to discuss his latest book.

Touching the Heights: Personal Portraits of Scottish Sporting Greats gives us a very different look at 13 people who have inspired Archie Macpherson in his 50 years of broadcasting.

He invites the reader to join him around a fantasy dinner table as he explores the lives of these remarkable figures: Tommy Docherty, Jackie Paterson, Jim Baxter, Eric Brown, Jimmy Johnstone, Sandra Whittaker, Dr Richard Budgett, Ally MacLeod, Jock Stein, Sir Alex Ferguson, Bill McLaren and Graeme Souness.

Be a fly on the dining room wall and enjoy Archie exploring what makes and made these sporting icons special.

While every single one of Archie’s selections would make a fascinating subject for discussion, this being the Scottish Borders there was one man who stood out.

Archie told us: “There is a chapter dedicated to Bill McLaren, the man and the commentator. I knew him fleetingly from the early days when he had to visit various grounds to do his report and of course in those days international matches were few and far between.

“While most of us would visit the BBC canteen afterwards, Bill was always keen to get back home, but I remember on one occasion discussing football with him and he was very knowledgeable and up on the subject.

“Then I would bump into Bill and Betty at sporting dinners and once did a big interview with him at his home in Hawick on the eve of a Scotland v England match at Twickenham.

“Scotland needed a victory to secure the Triple Crown and he spoke very emotionally about seeing the great Wilson Shaw’s try in 1938 as a schoolboy.

“As a fellow commentator, I always felt that Bill had a harder job than I did because rugby is a more complicated game which still mystifies me and I thought Bill was like an Egyptologist explaining hieroglyphics to an unenlightened audience, given that the majority of people in Scotland are football fans.

“His task was to make it exciting and to intelligently explain what was happening and he made it look easy.

“He was a teacher at heart and always so professional in everything he did.

“And of all the chapters in the book, I probably enjoyed writing about Bill most and I loved crossing over the cultures between rugby and football.”

Archie Macpherson will be appearing at the Borders Book Festival, Melrose on Saturday, June 17 at 3.45pm (tickets £14, concessions £12) to talk about his book, Touching the Heights: Personal Portraits of Scottish Sporting Greats (Luath Press Ltd). Visit:, or call the box office on: 0131 290 2112.