Last night was a gala night with the Oddfellows in Arbroath. The occasion was the return match between the Longest Eleven of the Abbey Lodge of Oildfellows and the Maroons’ Strongest Eleven. To add eclat to the event, Poet McGonagall, from Dundee, was invited to take part in the proceedings, and to this request he kindly acceded. The Oddfellows, arrayed in fantastic garb of variegated colours, formed a procession, and marched from Park Street Hall to Gayfield, where there was a large attendance, the gate money amounting to upwards of £18. The result of the match was a win for the Oddfellows. It was announced that a cup would be presented to the losing team, and this function came off in Park Street Hall, to which the procession returned. Here there was a numerous gathering, and the cup, the material of which bore a strong resemblance to tin, was presented.
McGonagall, in handing over the cup to one of the prominent half-backs of the Arbroath XI, said he was very proud indeed to be invited to perform the duty that had been imposed upon him— that of presenting the handsome cup. He hoped that it would be taken good care of, and expressed himself of the opinion that it would make a good coffee cup. (Loud laughter.) If he (the half-back) drank the full of it at any time he would be able to knock down a man bigger than himself. (Laughter and applause.) He had been told that it would hold half a gallon and a quarter. (Laughter.) Proceeding, he said that he was to give him a little advice, namely—
Never attempt to drink the full of it of whisky,
Because it wiil make you rather frisky.
(Loud cheers. ) He hoped that they would long be spared to enjoy the cup, and he begged to return his sincere thanks to the members of the club for the kindnesses they had showered upon him. He was almost certain that before he left he would be under the impression that he had never been so well treated in all his life. (Applause.) If he was well treated they might expect him back there again when he was invited. (Laughter and applause.)
The winning team was presented with badges made of the staff of life, while the losing team were the recipients of silver badges, from which, it may be mentioned, the flour had not been washed off. Mr McGonagall then recited tbe “Battle of Bannockburn” in his usual effective fashion, but his rendering of the “Battle of Tel-el-Kebir” was considered a far greater success. The poet said he might almost call it his famous poem, for of all the poets who had written the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir he had received the highest honour from Lord Wolseley. He had been told himself that the poem specially suited his patriotic disposition. (“Hear, hear,” and applause.) Mr McGonagall then gave a startlingly realistic recital of the poem. In the course of the evening the poet recited a number of his celebrated pieces, and concluded with the “Rattling Boy from Dublin Town.”
Dundee Courier, 11th May 1893