A group of Dundee Scouts have never forgotten that train journey in the company of the late football legend Jack Charlton.
Members of the 22nd Fintry Scout Group were taking the train to London when Charlton got on at Newcastle and immediately started chatting to them.
The Scouts were on the first leg of the journey to spend a week in Billund in Denmark to visit Legoland in 1998 when the footballing giant proved he was a man of the people.
The man affectionately known as Big Jack started asking them about the trip to Denmark before regaling them with a treasure trove of stories from his career and signing autographs.
Among the Scouts was keen fisherman Ali Strachan who was just 12 at the time but knew Charlton from his TV series Go Fishing with Jack Charlton.
“I knew who he was instantly as he was such a unique person,” said Ali, who was devastated when Charlton’s death was announced at the weekend.
“Being a big football fan and a keen fisherman I had seen Go Fishing with Jack Charlton.
“I had told him how great it was to meet him and had a conversation about how I had seen his fishing programme and he was shocked as it wasn’t about football.
“I also asked if he could sign my copy of Trout and Salmon magazine.
“Big Jack signed it across the middle pages ‘Tight lines Ali’ with his signature underneath.
“We chatted for about 15 minutes and he was an absolute gentleman who had all the time in the world for me.
“When I heard the news of his passing I was devastated.
“I was an excited kid and they always say never meet your heroes.
“But Jack Charlton was a true legend and a true gent who gave me a memory that will last forever.”
Ali said he still has the magazine in his collection which will always serve as a reminder of a memorable train journey.
Cub leader Stuart Ramsay said his memories of Charlton were of a gentleman who took a genuine interest in the youngsters from Fintry.
“I remember him getting on the train in Newcastle,” he said.
“He was really polite and chatty and spoke to some of the kids about the Denmark trip including Ali who was really keen on fishing and got his autograph.
“I remember being surprised that he was not in first-class but I suppose that’s what made him so popular.”
Hamish Strachan was Area Cub Commissioner for Dundee at the time and also Cub Scout Leader for the 22nd A Fintry Cubs.
“We took 43 Scouts to Billund in 1998,” said Hamish, who was contingent leader for the Denmark trip.
“We were flying from Gatwick.
“We got the train from Dundee to London and Charlton got on at Newcastle.
“He just started chatting to the Scouts asking them all kinds of questions about the trip and the group and then telling footy stories.
“A few got his autograph.
“We were all sad to hear of his passing.
“He was the perfect gentleman.”
The life and times of a man who was a football hero in England and Ireland
Born in the Northumberland colliery village of Ashington on May 8 1935, the eldest child of miner Bob and his wife Cissie, he learned his football with Ashington YMCA and Ashington Welfare before joining the ground staff at Leeds in 1950.
It was an association which was to prove hugely successful as he went on to make a record 629 league appearances for the Elland Road club before eventually hanging up his boots just weeks before his 38th birthday.
During more than two decades at Leeds, punctuated by a spell on national service with the Horse Guards, he won the First and Second Division titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Inter Cities Fairs Cup twice and was named the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in 1967.
However, it was with England, for whom he earned 35 full caps, that he wrote himself into the history books.
He was approaching 30 when he made his full debut in a 2-2 Home Championship draw with Scotland in April 1965 and, a little more than a year later, played his part in what remains perhaps the most famous day in the nation’s sporting history.
One of the abiding images of the 4-2 World Cup final victory over West Germany on July 30 1966 is that of the defender sinking to his knees at the final whistle before embracing his brother Bobby.
Following his retirement as a player, he was appointed manager at Division Two club Middlesbrough in May 1973 and won promotion at the first attempt before ending his four-year spell on Teesside and then taking up the reins at Sheffield Wednesday.
He spent almost six seasons at Hillsborough and later had brief spells back at Boro and with Newcastle who were Charlton’s boyhood favourites.
He left Tyneside in August 1985 after keeping the club up and signing Paul Gascoigne.
Ireland came calling in February 1986 and he led the nation to led them to their first World Cup in 1990, where they reached the quarter-finals.
He also led the nation to successful qualification to Euro 1988 and the 1994 World Cup.
Big Jack died at home on Friday aged 85.
He had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and also had dementia.